MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — The Monmouth-Independence Rotary Club added a new award category for Fourth of July parade participants: Family Group.

“We’d like to emphasize the diversity in community, and everybody is from somewhere, even people who’ve been here for a thousand years are from someplace, including here,” said Jim Birken, parade chair.

Birken was in New York City for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and noticed family groups walking together with signs indicating their family names.

“That’s a neat idea — to have a family group march in the parade just because they can,” he said.

Birken is of Polish, Ukrainian and Russian descent, he said.

He’s not sure what he would wear to represent that, but he won’t be marching in the parade so he doesn’t have to worry about it.

He’ll be driving the Rotary Club president in a convertible during the parade, as he has done for about 20 years.

If nothing else, Fourth of July parade participants can walk the 3.1-mile route holding a sign with their family name, Birken said. This year, they won’t have to find their own way back to the start at Western Oregon University.

“The City of Independence will provide a free shuttle van to ferry people from the end of the parade back to the start in Monmouth,” Birken said.

There are no other changes from previous years, he said.

“We did manage to get a fighter jet last year,” Birken said. The club is trying to get that again.

Everybody loves a parade

The parade is on July 4. Staging begins at 9 a.m. at Western Oregon University. Judging is from 10 to 11 a.m. and the parade begins at noon.

There are award categories for best youth entry, youth equestrian, equestrian float, best float, most effort in preparation, family group, highway trucks, farm equipment, modern vehicle and antique vehicle.

Early bird entry is $20. Entry after June 25 is $25.

For more information or to download the entry form, visit mirotaryclub.org or call Jim Birken at 541-760-0295.

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