Published 12:00 am Friday, July 5, 2013

FAITH — A little bit of rain on the parade didn’t stop the Faith Fourth on Thursday.
While the rain started heavy in the morning, the skies started to clear right as the parade began at 10 a.m.
“I’m sort of glad it rained, so it’s not so hot,” said Rockwell resident Kristina Wilkerson.
She sat in a folding chair with her 14-month-old daughter, Kesilynn, who was decked out in a ruffled American flag dress.
Wilkerson said she has been coming to the parade since she was a baby herself.
“My dad used to park his truck here with coolers of drinks,” she said.
Now, it’s Wilkerson’s pickup that sits in a driveway just off the main road, supplying refreshments for her family and friends.
Andy Allen, who brought his 8-year-old daughter Melanie, said he has attended the parade for 37 years.
“Even when we’ve lived in other states, we’ve come here,” he said. “It’s a community and family tradition.”
Also attending Saturday’s parade was Gov. Pat McCrory, who rode in the back of a 1984 Mustang convertible supplied by the N.C. Highway Patrol.
“This is one of the best and greatest Fourth of July parades, not only in the state but in the nation,” McCrory said. “This is Americana at its best.”
The governor got out of the car partway through the parade and began greeting people in the crowd.
An assortment of colorful floats, trucks, cars and military vehicles slowly processed down Main Street.
Several of these represented local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.
The crowd applauded as the veterans went by, including a particularly furry one.
A bomb-sniffing dog has just returned from Iraq and got to take a ride through the parade on a float.
Dancing tomatoes greeted the crowd on a float for the Woodleaf Tomato Festival, and the Boogerwoods display brought even more costumed fun.
Matt Staton watched the parade pass with his wife, Adrian, their 3-year-old daughter, Kenzie, and various other family members. They come out every year, he said.
“It’s a small town feel,” Staton said. “It’s home, so I’ve got to come back.”
He said his grandparents are very involved in the Faith community, and his mother usually comes out around 7:30 a.m. to save a spot for the family right by the road.
Staton said his daughter is looking forward to the rides, and if she can stay up for the fireworks, the family might stay the whole day.
“It’s usually way hotter than this,” he said. “This is actually pretty nice. It’s a little humid, but it’s a lot better than it usually is.”
Though the morning temperature only rose to the low 80s, high humidity sent festival-goers clamoring for souvenir fans. Volunteers handed them out as they passed through the parade.
Children wearing red, white and blue scrambled to gather candy thrown out of the parade cars.
The adults found their own ways to catch candy, too. Several turned their umbrellas upside down to form a wide collection bowl.
Alex Gardner, 8, collected so many treats that she had to carry them in a plastic grocery bag. But that wasn’t the most exciting part of her day.
She and her brother, Josh, 6, got to lead the parade on top of a fire truck.
“I’ve done it ever since I was a baby,” she said.
Their father is Scott Gardner, chief of the Faith Fire Department. He was near the end of the parade with the two children after they dismounted from the fire truck.
Gardner said he knows rain has lowered attendance during previous days of the eight-day festival, but Thursday seemed to be going well.
“It’s great now, but we’ll see how it is this evening,” Gardner said. “This is the first time I remember it raining during the parade.”
A small storm did move through Faith late in the afternoon, but it cleared up in time for the evening events and the more than 40-minute fireworks display.
In a ceremony after the parade, Zahra Celeste Khan was named Miss Rowan County Veteran this year.
Khan, a 2013 graduate of Jesse C. Carson High School, represents American Legion Post 46. Her guardians are Allen and Barbara Welter.
The runner-up was Amy Nachette Shank, representing Faith American Legion Post 327.
Shank, a 2013 graduate of East Rowan High School, is the daughter of Charles and Barbara Shank of Salisbury.
Also honored at the ceremony was Howard Hayes, who served as grand marshal for the parade. Kent Bernhardt was the master of ceremonies, and Neil Wilkerson performed the national anthem during a flag raising.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222. Twitter:

Faith Idol finalists performed Thursday evening, and the following winners were announced:
• 12 and under division

1. Kira Rymer
2. Olivia Kesler

3. Breleigh Garrett
• Junior division

1. Mikelah Maloy
2. Samantha Knight

3. Ashton Smith
• Adult division

1. Laura Millspaugh
2. Pressley Laton

3. Ann Spele

Each first place winner received $300, second place got $200 and third place got $100.