It started in the summer of 1973.

Nancy Killough was making her annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod; since the 1940s, she’d been summering there with her grandparents in the town of Falmouth.

Nancy, a New Jersey native, had moved to Preston Hollow as a newlywed with her husband, Mike, three years earlier. This year, Mike was going with her to the Cape.

In Falmouth, there was a community called the Moors where the Killoughs stayed, and every summer the neighborhood had a Fourth of July parade. That particular summer, the couples’ visit coincided with this event. As the Killoughs headed to the flag-raising, Mike became mesmerized by the small community’s display of patriotic pride. Everywhere he looked, it was red, white and blue, and a flag bearer and neighborhood band led the participants down the road, “tooting their horns and banging their drums.”

“He was quite taken with the bit of Americana he witnessed,” Nancy says. “And he thought we could do the same thing in Dallas.”

The Labor Day after the Cape Cod trip, Mike installed a flagpole at the Killoughs’ home on Prestonshire, and they “christened it with a neighborhood breakfast and first flag-raising,” Nancy says.

Such a good time was had by all that the following year, in 1974, the Killoughs decided to hold their neighborhood’s first-ever Fourth of July parade, and mirrored the event after their experience in Falmouth.

This holiday marks the parade’s 28th year, and many of the details are the same today as they were back then.

“Our lemonade server moved out of the neighborhood several years ago,” Nancy says. “But he makes it a point to return yearly and do his duty.”

On parade day, participants gather in the Killoughs’ front yard at 10 a.m. When most of the “children, pets, parents and grandparents” have assembled, they have a flag raising followed by a Pledge of Allegiance. Then they hit the street, with everyone trailing the flag-bearer on the parade’s quarter-mile route from the Killough home, west on Prestonshire to Tulane, and back.

Once back at the house, the owners of creatively decorated bikes and strollers receive prizes while neighbors mingle and talk. While everyone is quenching their thirst under the hot July sun, Mike and Nancy mill around and hand out patriotic-themed party favors – “a pencil, pin, sticker,” Nancy says.

That the Killoughs have lived in the same house all these years (their children, now grown, went to Preston Hollow, Franklin and Hillcrest, and Killough now works for the latter two schools as a part-time receptionist), allows the tradition to continue, but Nancy insists their dedication isn’t that big of a deal.

“It really takes us very little time to put it together,” she says. “We really don’t organize it…we just give things a little push, and the participants do the rest on their own.

“The parade is just a forum for the neighbors to come together and celebrate this holiday in their own way. Some wear elaborate costumes, some just an American flag pin. Some spends days or weeks in preparation, others decide to attend that morning. Some walk in the parade, some are spectators.

“The thing to remember – the thing we remember – is that it’s the people that make the parade, not us. We’re just the catalyst. The neighborhood makes the parade meaningful.”

This year, the Killoughs plan to hoist a special flag they inaugurated last year. Their son-in-law, Charlie, an Air Force fighter pilot, flew an American flag over Iraq in a combat mission in September 2000. He presented the Killoughs with the flag the following Christmas, and they raised it for the first time at last year’s parade. Nancy says the events of September 11 will add an even more “fervant” feeling to this year’s procession.

“I think the most meaningful aspect of the parade is the sense of true patriotism of all age groups, and having the opportunity to celebrate with many old and new friends,” Nancy says. “It’s turned into a kind of mini-reunion for many, and the only time some folks will see each other all year.

“But the common denominator is this: for that hour, on that day, we are all Americans, and we remember, and we reflect, and we count our blessings.”

If the neighbors have anything to say about it, the parade is a neighborhood tradition that will continue for a long time to come.

“I’m afraid folks would show up even if our annual sign was not in the yard, and that would certainly be a shame. So I think we’re in it for the long haul!”

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