Downtown Denton was a sea of red, white and blue as people lined the streets to watch this year’s Yankee Doodle Parade on Thursday morning to celebrate Independence Day.

During the procession, children clamored for candy and beads being thrown by various cars and floats that were part of the lineup. Beach balls given out by Gohlke Pools near the end of the parade were a big hit, with kids yelling, ‘Beach ball! Beach ball!’ while waving their arms above their heads to try and get one as Gohlke Pools passed.

This year’s parade was the first for Stephanie Mulford, 45. She said she lost her husband two years ago and decided to come to give her son memories.

“Denton is one of the places that he finds comfort because that’s where he and his daddy were,” she said. “They would always come up here to the courthouse. [It’s just] memories for my son and I like parades and showing off my patriotism because I’m very patriotic and I’m trying to instill that in my son.”

Lasting an hour, the parade saw a number of entities with floats and cars. State Rep. Lynn Stucky, R-Denton, was one of the first cars in the lineup and Denton Mayor Chris Watts rode on a fire truck as part of the parade. City Council members Keely Briggs and Jesse Davis were also a part of the parade lineup.

For Stephanie Lopez, 38, and Cozette Kosary, 31, this is their second time seeing the Yankee Doodle Parade.

“It was fun,” Lopez said about last year’s parade. “It was fun seeing everybody and [the] community interaction.”

Immediately following the end of the parade, Denton’s Fourth of July Jubilee took place at the Denton Civic Center. There were a variety of different inflatables set up for attendees to enjoy, with one letting people try their hand at bull riding.

Live music and concessions were also part of the outdoor attractions, while inside the Denton Civic Center, a variety of different carnival games were set up for people to play.

“I thought it was nice,” Melinda Proctor, 53, said about the parade. She was one of the people that went to the jubilee after the parade.

“Availability, community, relaxation,” Proctor said when asked why she came to both events.

The main attraction during the jubilee was the hot dog eating competition which began a little after 11:30 a.m and challenged contestants to eat as many hot dogs as they could in 10 minutes. Eight people participated in the contest that had an unforeseen break halfway through because there were not enough hot dogs.

“We had to buy extra hot dogs from the concessions,” said Alicia McDaniel, a Denton parks and recreation employee who emceed the competition. “This is our fourth annual one. Last year, it was total of 30-something hot dogs across all the contestants. The person who won it ate eight or nine last year so we still, even when we got to 30 [hot dogs], we still thought we’d be OK, but no.”

McDaniel said they’ve never had more than one contestant eat double digits in hot dogs.

“So we had three of them, plus him [the winner] eat double digits,” she said. “And so we’re totally going to be ready next year.”

Two contestants ate 12 hot dogs, one contestant ate 10, and Albert “The Devourer” Bravo, the winner, ate 17.

“Very good,” Bravo said about his feeling after winning. “It’s all worth it.”

For winning, Bravo received a trophy that featured a hot dog on a pedestal.

“I knew I was going to win,” he said. “I had to be confident. It’s the Fourth of July.”

This is his first time participating in Denton’s hot dog eating competition but not his first competitive eating competition.

“I’ve done the Hostess Donettes, I’ve done pies, chicken wings, tamales, ribs,” he said. “I do all of them. Peppers, hot peppers. Anything that’s not disgusting I’ll do. Like squid or octopus, I won’t do that.”

Bravo, who is from Garland, said he plans on coming back next year.

The celebrations ended with the annual Denton Kiwanis Club Fireworks Show at Apogee Stadium.

Before the fireworks began popping, an announcer told the stadium how about $5,000 more was spent on this show than last year’s.

After a countdown from 10, the pops and kabooms began.

People cocked their necks and aimed their smartphones toward the skies above the stadium. Reds, oranges, silvers, blues, greens and purples blew up above.

The music one might find at any other fireworks display played throughout the stadium. Military tunes and the oldies were playing mostly. “Surfin’ USA” by the Beach Boys was on right before “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” by John Mellencamp. And then “Party in the U.S.A” by Miley Cirus brought in the contemporary songs, which included “Firework” by Katy Perry.

For Nidia Canales, 17, Denton-born and who has been coming to the Kiwanis fireworks display every year since she was about 5, the 2019 fireworks show did not disappoint.

“It was top five,” she said.

LaTonya Robinson drove in from San Antonio to be with loved ones. After the show she remarked about how impressed she was with how close the fireworks were to the audience below.

“It was a good time for families,” she said.

Staff writer Dalton LaFerney contributed to this report. LIZZY SPANGLER can be reached via Twitter at @LizzySpangler.

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