Posted Online: July 04, 2013, 9:23 pm

Holiday provides opportunity for relaxation, fun

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By Seth Schroeder,

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Photo: Todd Welvaert
A cowboy shows off his skill with a lariat during the 55th annual AMVETS 4th of July Parade in East Moline, Thursday, July 4, 2013.
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Photo: Chet Strange
Children carry a banner and pass out candy during the 55th annual AMVETS 4th of July Parade in East Moline.
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Photo: Chet Strange
Bobby Schilling, of Colona, talks to attendees of the Rock Island County Republicans Fourth of July Celebration at Peterson Park in Moline on Thursday, July 4, 2013. The former congressman will be running in the 2014 election seeking to reclaim his former District 17 seat.
MOLINE -- After their Memorial Day picnic was rained out, members of the Rock Island County Republicans decided to reschedule for the Fourth of July.

Their patience was rewarded with blue skies and a steady breeze.

The group set up in Peterson Park in Moline, covering their pavilion with American flags and red, white and blue bunting. Trays containing bratwurst, hamburgers and potato salad were accompanied by silent auction items such as porcelain figurines, paintings and a wooden rifle.

Walt Nenycz, one of the picnic's organizers, said the main goal of the holiday event was to spread awareness of the group to the public. He said it was important for voters to develop communication with their elected officials.

Planning the picnic was a first for many members, he said, making it a learning experience. Mr. Nenycz said the event would not have been possible without Kim Lazenby, a South Moline Township trustee.

Ms. Lazenby said she was glad to hear the concerns of many people at the picnic and to see them talking and meeting other elected officials.

"That's the nice thing about community service," Ms. Lazenby said. "You get to meet all kinds of people you normally wouldn't."

She added she knew Independence Day was a busy day for people and she was glad many were able to squeeze in the Republicans' picnic.

In East Moline, many people set up their own temporary pavilions for the annual AMVETS Fourth of July Parade. Under pockets of shade, those lining the streets were treated to sights of military veterans in dark green buggies and trucks, with people tossing out candy.

East Moline city staff and employees were represented by a red and green trolley bearing a golden colored replica of the Statue of Liberty as a masthead. Local businesses, such as Blackhawk Bank & Trust, drove floats with star-spangled versions of their logos.

Starting at 3rd Street and 15th Avenue, the parade wound its way to 13th Street. Nearly every parking space on the surrounding streets was taken, as parade viewers vied choice spots to watch the festivities.

A "No Parking" sign stabbed into a tree with a pair of kitchen knives on 15th Avenue successfully kept people out while, further down the road,signs saying "No Parking Temporary Police Order" went ignored and, sometimes, knocked over.

Many parade watchers had red, white and blue shirts, hats and beaded necklaces. American flags dotted the nearby homes.

Flags also were in full view at Whitewater Junction Aquatic Center at Rock Island's Longview Park. Employees of the center placed American flags around the pools to make things more festive.

Kids swimming at the center also could compete in games every half hour to win red, white and blue prizes, such as yo-yos, stickers and temporary tattoos.

Margaret Hasselroth, an assistant manager at the center, said the center routinely has kids games every Thursday. Competitions included inter-tube relays, limbo dancing and using a sponge to fill a bucket with water.

The center is often slow on the Fourth of July, Ms. Hasselroth said, since people usually have other obligations. This year, however, she said a decent-sized crowd showed up with about 15 kids playing every game. Normally, she said, not every game has that much participation.

"I personally really like working with kids," she said. "You get a lot of kids who make you their best friend."

Ms. Hasselroth said that, after working five years at the center, it is much easier for her to work with the kids she sees consistently because she knows them by name -- and she can hold them more accountable for their actions.

She said she usually must address a few behavior issues each day. On Thursday, however, the center hardly had any problems, she said.

"I think everybody is out just enjoying the holiday," Ms. Hasselroth said.