GALLIPOLIS — More than 100 participants marched down Second Avenue during the annual Independence Day Parade in Gallipolis on Friday with Parade Marshal Trace Neal leading the pack.
The son of the late Lorie Neal, Trace served as parade marshal this year in memory of his mother who served as executive director of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce and organizer of the Gallipolis River Recreation Festival for 13 years.
Each year, the recipient of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce’s Bud and Donna McGhee Award, which is presented in January during the chamber’s annual banquet to a deserving community member, is invited to serve as parade marshal of the Independence Day Parade. This past January, Lorie, who passed away unexpectedly in September, was recognized with the award, and thus, her son served as the parade marshal in her memory this Fourth of July.
Trace traveled near the front of the very long procession that included local high school bands, vehicles and floats from civic and volunteer organizations, clubs, local businesses and service agencies, including the local volunteer fire departments and veterans service agencies, as well as members of the queen’s court and newly crowned River Rec Queen Maddison Siders.
The procession lasted for approximately one hour as the parade floats circled the Gallipolis City Park. Following the parade, popular Columbus-based ’80s hair band “No Regrets” performed on the main stage. Led by longtime southern Ohio resident, vocalist Rusty Ballinger, “No Regrets” performed favorite tunes from the ’80s.
Following “No Regrets,” headliner Matt Stillwell, a nationally-known country music recording artist, took to the main stage performing music from his sophomore album “Right on Time.”
Stillwell has been touring the country, headlining his own shows and opening for country artists such as Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton.
While on stage Friday evening, Stillwell commented on the beauty of the City of Gallipolis, as well as the patriotism of the community as seen through the Independence Day parade — the longest the country star reported that he has ever seen.
The 49th Annual Gallipolis River Recreation Festival concludes Saturday with a fireworks display beginning at 10 p.m.