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Date of Issue: July 08, 2009

Patriotism on parade

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The Anna Maria Island Privateers wave to an adoring audience. The non-profit group organized the July 4 parade, as well as a free post-parade party at Cafe on the Beach.

The throngs reached for beads.

The kids called for candy.

The audience danced to a Johnny Cash tune.

And the crowds cheered for real-life veterans and reservists, make-believe pirates and privateers, local business leaders and officeholders, and a variety of patriots enthusiastic to show their colors on Independence Day in the annual Anna Maria Island Privateers July 4 parade.

The parade traveled from Coquina Beach at the Island’s south end to Bayfront Park at the Island’s north end.

Along the way, there were flags waved, beads tossed, candy collected and, in Anna Maria Island Privateers tradition, there was “non-projectile black powder” cannon fire.

The parade had some rules — anyone could participate, but they could not walk or march, solicit money or votes. Participants could, under the rules, fire black powder and celebrate in red, white and blue fashion.

And celebrate they did.

There were 127 entries and thousands of onlookers.

“I love this parade because you see people you know, friends and neighbors, anybody might go past,” said Amy Taylor of Anna Maria.

“Isn’t this so fun?” said Latanya Johnson of Bradenton. “We didn’t even know this was happening. We came out to go to the beach. What a treat.”

Johnson’s children — all of them wearing strands of beads that reached to their knees – agreed.

“I got one of every color,” said Michelle Johnson, 6. “And this one, with a flag.”

After the parade, AMIP hosted a party at Cafe on the Beach at Manatee Public Beach, where the non-profit awarded $29,000 in scholarships to college-bound students.