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July 4th celebrations outshine rain

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Braylan Belew provides part of the musical entertainment as the teen vocalist performed with acoustic accompaniment. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
After winning seven out of eight games, Coleman Walker claimed victory as “King” of the court, while Mayor Craighead bows. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead and WANT radio personality Coleman Walker square off for their annual July 4th cornhole battle. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
Zach Allen gets in some guitar work as the Zach Allen Band closed out the music for the evening with some rock and country selections. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings sprays the crowd. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
Tucker Nelson, age 3, works on getting every bit of goodness from his slice of watermelon. The melon was served by volunteers from the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto tries to return fire as he gets soaked along the parade route with daughter Megan and wife Paula. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post
James Stephens waves to spectators as he and wife Debbie serve as grand marshals for Watertown’s Stars, Stripes and Squirt Guns Parade. Photos by DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post

Independence Day festivities went off without a hitch despite sporadic downpours in Lebanon and Watertown Monday.

The City of Watertown hosted its annual Fourth of July parade, and parade-goers got a little more water than they bargained for.

The caravan of floats, four-wheelers and firetrucks exited the Roundlick Baptist Church parking lot at 3 p.m. and traveled down Main Street to the Watertown Square. In traditional Watertown style, folks lined up along the parade route with water guns, balloons and other items to soak parade participants - and vice versa.

"This right here is America," said Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings before the parade began. "It is a small-town parade, and people wait for it every year."

Although Jennings said the number of float entrees was smaller than in past years, the city still saw a good turnout, including folks running for office and other local organizations.

James and Debbie Stephens, owners of Watertown's Depot Junction, served as parade grand marshals.

"We were excited to be asked," said Debbie, noting that her husband was very deserving of the honor. "He is a Vietnam veteran and has two Purple Hearts."

The couple was joined in the parade by two Depot Junction employees - James Ricketts and Dawn Patton.

Rain began to fall just as the parade was winding down and continued into the evening.

At 6 p.m., Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead confirmed the city's fireworks show would still go on that evening at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center.

Prior to Lebanon's celebration, musical acts Braylan Belew and the Zach Allen Band entertained the crowd in the Pageant Pavilion as part of a show organized by Melani Stephens. Stephens said Belew had been "very loyal" to Lebanon over the years - even turning down the opportunity to perform in Nashville Monday to perform here.

Fireworks lit up the sky at around 8:45 p.m., and the crowd-pleasing display lasted for half an hour, continuing even during rain showers.

"The Fourth of July is about our past and the people who have served to make our freedoms what they are," Craighead said. "This brings everybody in the community together."

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