Chris DeWald | Fourth of July for all

Chris DeWald | Fourth of July for all


The ’60s rock group Steppenwolf sang a song that included a lyric “get your motor running”… . Well, my power wheelchair was burning the electric motorways” at the Staunton Fourth of July 2009 event held in Gypsy Hill Park. I wanted to render a view on accessibility for those from a wheelchair or other similar device. 

I started off to the park on the 3rd of July to find out what Senior Bingo was all about. Not being a senior myself, I wanted to venture about and see what this beautiful City had to offer. I met with a Terri Corey who is in charge of America’s Birthday Celebration. She was a very dedicated lady assuring a good time for all. They had an elongated overhead open tent that housed the tables and chairs just for those participating in Bingo. The weather was perfect for any event but seemed like it was destined for a comfortable outdoor party. People were smiling and laughing and giving thanks for the beautiful country we live in. I had the opportunity to speak with a Beulah Hill and a Shirley Clark at the event. They thought it was great that seniors had something to do within the community. They were a couple of cards in the great deck of life I witnessed there.

There was also something which warmed my heart. Many booths were set up to acquire funds to assist those in the community. While canvassing many of the vendors, I also spoke with Susan Anthony from the Newsleader. She had a booth where funds were going towards education. There were so many other booths that aided the community and I felt the sense of pride in each one of them.

I started my chair side mobility test through the booths that were setting up. They included Botalis, Armado’s Express, Aunt Sue’s lemonade, Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge, First Church of God, Country Corner and More, G G’s Handmade Accessory bags, Salvation Army Church, Standing Rock Mission Linden Heights Baptist Church, 1st Time Out, Shenandoah Club of the Blind and Death, Christ United Methodist Church and a host of others. I was elated to see the exuberant people manning the booths.

I found all concession to be very well situated for those in wheelchairs or other handicap needs. I was floored when I seen an ATM Machine from the Dupont Community Bank. Yes friends, I zoomed my chair over to the ATM machine and found it to be easily accessed by those in wheelchairs. On the way out of the park, I noticed another booth setting up. It was Melita from “Your Caricature” all the way from Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles!!! Another song is skidding on my runway….Arlo Guthrie with a tune “Coming into Los Angeles, bringing in a couple of …uhhhh, colored pencils”….or the Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the Bridge”. Oh by the way, I had my “face” captured in pencil. I then zoomed back home and awaited the big event for the following day.

The beginning of the Fourth of July 2009 beckoned me. A beautiful day was starting to be exposed. The sun was out, the breeze was cool and many faces were gazing from the sidewalk on Thornrose Avenue to the street of activity.

Among them were the veterans who still get out there and are held as heroes. My eyes well up when I see the proud American men and women pass by with the American Flag waving proudly. I still cry when the Star Spangled Banner plays. I look around me and see I am not the only one.

Now it was time to go to the park and see the events. More booths seemed to appear during the night or twilight. The aroma of Cheese Steaks, Cotton Candy and funnel cakes were aloft in the park. Did I mention funnel cakes?

The talent on the stage was fantastic. The volume was just right for the crowd and what more can be said. An exciting fireworks display capped off the event. Happy Birthday America and I am proud I live in Staunton.


– Column by Chris DeWald



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