Celebrating Independence Day in Small Town America
Across the United States millions of Americans are celebrating Independence Day with parades, picnics, barbecues and fireworks. The town of Murdock Nebraska is no different. However, our story is a little unique because you see it is a village of under 400 people. The town is joined by Elmwood Nebraska just six miles south and we form the community of Elmwood-Murdock joined together by our schools and with a total population of around a thousand people.
The day starts off with a 5K Dillon Synovec Memorial Run at 7:30 am and then continues with a parade, lunch hosted by the Lions Club, pie at the church, firemans water fight, tractor pull, softball games, and fireworks at the end of the night.
However during the 4th of July parade and Independence Day parade we grow to probably close to a thousand people. That is no joke. Our parade is one of the best around and over an hour long. You can see the sidewalks packed with people and this goes on for an amazing three blocks of main street. Well actually people are also sitting in their yards on the parade route also, but the announcers stand is on Main St (3rd Ave).
My friends always bring their donkeys and throw candy from the home made barrels on the side. Chris dresses up in his red and white “Husker” coveralls which double for the 4th of July.
There wouldn’t be a country Independence Day parade without some antique tractors decked out in 4th of July bunting, and this one is an oldie. I’ve never even heard of a Rumley tractor before, obviously this brand is no longer made and was built before inflatable tires.
The marching band from Elmwood-Murdock high school marches, and because it’s the 4th and not a competition they are allowed to wear shorts and an school T-shirt. My daughter played the drums in school and during her senior year she moved up to the quads which is a coveted position. She felt like a “beast” when she played the quads.
After the parade one of the local 4-H clubs gives out free watermelon. It’s a favorite with the crowds and a good appetizer to the lunch served after the parade put on by the Lions Club.
Can’t go wrong with watermelon on the 4th of July, it’s a holiday tradition.
The day continues with a tractor pull and one of my favorite activities the Fireman’s water fight. The local volunteer fire departments from about 8-10 towns in the area compete for bragging rights (and I’m sure a few beers) in water fights. The object of the game is to push the 55 gal barrel down the wire using the force from the water hose. If it’s hot the spray from the fire hoses are a welcome relief to the hot sun. It’s so much fun watching the little kids play in the water. (My daughter is sitting with our dog Leah to the left of the picture)
For most kids the favorite part of celebrating Independence Day is the fireworks. This year my husbands family took a cross country trip from New York to tour the Western United States. They stopped by our house and the teenagers were so excited to light fireworks. Fireworks aren’t legal for the “regular” person to light in Buffalo. There are kid safe fireworks that are legal in all 50 states and small kids really don’t know the difference.
However you celebrate Independence Day, have a safe one, hug your families, salute the flag and remember we are celebrating our freedom, the birth of our country and all that we hold dear and take for granted: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, and freedom from tyranny. Our military fought for our freedom from the British in the 1700’s and continues to fight for those who suppress freedom around the world.
How Are You Celebrating Independence Day This Year?
Leave me a note below, I’d love to hear your traditions.