(JUDAH) - For Judah Heritage Group Vice President Larry Ritter, the parade means a lot more than just a good time with family, friends and community.
Although he enjoys the parade and announcing each of the 51 entries that moved through Judah Saturday, the parade is about bringing back Judah's identity. "It's to preserve and promote the community of Judah," Ritter said.
And the community is proud of its veterans and proud of its country. That's one of the reasons why the parade stopped in its tracks as Meredith Deckard took up the microphone to sing the national anthem.
Merlin and Kathryn Root were at the front of the lineup, serving as the grand marshals for the seventh parade in Judah. Not too far behind them was a float dedicated to the veterans, which paused in front of Ritter.
Deckard, the winner of 2012's Judah Idol, sang the national anthem without holding back. The crowd applauded her before the entries started moving along Old Ind. 37 again.
The Judah Heritage Festival ended after fireworks lit up the night sky at 10:15 p.m. Saturday.
To Ritter, 51 entries and fireworks at night help identify Judah as a community. Ritter said that, when State Road 37 was routed along Judah, a sign was put up to alert drivers that another community, Guthrie, was within five miles. "People thought we were just part of Guthrie," he said. "We kind of lost our identity."
In order to regain that identity, residents formed the Judah Heritage Group. Additionally, Judah is allowing people to purchase bricks in memory of or in honor of someone with names inscribed in bricks. Then, those bricks are placed at the bottom of three flagpoles in Judah, where there's a landscape with sand specifically designed for those bricks.
Ritter said the group has more plans to bring back the identity of the community, including purchasing a building to turn into a community center. He said one reason Judah lost a part of its identity in the first place was because unlike other nearby towns, Judah doesn't even have a post office.
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