July 4 brings out the red, white and blue in Manatee County

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 2, 2012 

MANATEE -- At the Clark residence in the 200 block of 20th Street W., Bradenton, the red, white and blue bunting always goes up on the last Monday in May to mark Memorial Day and stays up right through July 4.

The large American Flag, however, never comes down in front of the Clark home.

Like thousands of fellow Manatee County residents, Rich Clark will be celebrating the Fourth of July on Wednesday, the day in 1776 that America declared its Declaration of Independence.

Manatee County residents will also enjoy fireworks, barbecues, picnics, family reunions, and other events.

In fact, the congregation of Manatee United Methodist Church already got started, holding an old-fashioned Fourth of July picnic attended by 130 on church grounds Sunday.

Clark, who plans to celebrate July 4 at home with his family like many others and take in some fireworks, raises the red, white and blue because he is simply proud of his country and desires to express it.

And he is not alone.

At Pointe West, for example, at the intersection of 59th Street West and Pointe West Boulevard, just south of Blake Hospital, the 162 single family homeowners look forward to July 4 because their homeowner as

sociation puts out roughly 800 three-foot tall American flags, about three per home and scores on the property, said Larry McGary, president of the homeowner association.

"It just got started about 15 years ago with one flag per house," McGary said. "Then, as we gained more finances, we got more and more flags."

Pointe West residents don't dress up in 1776 garb for the occasion, but they do enjoy having visitors see their red, white and blue splendor, McGary said.

"At Christmas, busloads of people also come into Pointe West to see our lights," McGary said. "For July 4, we put the flags out at street level so when you are driving through you can see them."

"It's very patriotic," McGary added.

At Manatee United Methodist, the Rev. Susan Clouse hula-hooped, a great American July 4 activity. Her husband, Dave Clouse, wore his American flag shirt and became a magnet for hugs.

Don and Donna Wooley, a church couple, got married on July 4 about 50 years ago and felt like 16 again Sunday.

La Terry Butler, the church organist, announced Sunday that his wife, Tammy, a local teacher, will turn 50 on July 4.

La Terry Butler said his wife is just like America.

"She believes in bringing people together," Butler said with a grin.

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