LAYTON -- Layton city started off its Liberty Days parade with the ultimate highlight of the holiday, the presentation of the American flag followed by a float with its hometown hero honorees -- three Korean War Veterans.
The hundreds of people lining the streets Wednesday stood to honor the men who had fought for the country's freedom. Several onlookers unabashedly broke into tears.
"I love the veterans because it helps us remember why we celebrate this holiday in the first place," said 54-year-old Steven Clegg, of Fruit Heights.
Clegg was watching the parade with his wife, Shannon Clegg, who admitted to crying every time she sees the veterans.
Fifty-eight parade entries -- including numerous decorated floats, a large showing of classic cars, several marching bands, bagpipe groups, cheerleaders, and horses -- followed a 1.2-mile route through Layton. The parade also included several Hill Air Force Base officials.
Watching the parade were Gene and Sharon Topham, of Layton, who said they have enjoyed coming to the parade for several years. The Tophams said it is their way to support those in the military.
"We are proud to be an American, and coming to the parade really adds to the spirit of the day with all of the people wearing red, white, and blue, and seeing the military in the parade," said Gene Topham, 76.
For parade organizers, bringing that patriotic spirit to the crowd is the highlight of the event.
"Our biggest goal is to commemorate Independence Day by helping families and kids feel proud about their country after seeing the parade," said parade chairman, Rick Brady.
After the parade finished, droves of attendees flocked to the Liberty Days bash held in the Layton Commons Park, which included a maze of booths, a gamut of kid's activities, food, and items for sale.
Raline Sutherland, 63, of Layton, enjoyed some of the food with her grandchildren.
"We've always gone to our community activities where, for me, the highlight is being around other people that are enjoying themselves, and for the freedom we have to be able to do so," said Sutherland.
The city also hosted some Dutch oven demonstrations, where 60-year-old DeeAnn Johnson, of Layton, demonstrated how to cook bread, several main dishes, and desserts in the cast iron pans.
Johnson said bringing out the Dutch ovens was fitting for the Independence Day celebration, given that it was a popular method of cooking in the country's early years.
"This is how the pioneers cooked, and was just their way of life. So now, we're trying to teach people how to use them since it is a way to cook without electricity," said Johnson, who remembered when Layton was without power for three days several winters ago.
Johnson said she prepared meals for her family during those days using her Dutch ovens.
One distinct change to several of the parades in the Top of Utah was the way candy was passed. In years past, several injuries had been reported after kids ran into the street to collect candy thrown from foats and vehicles.
This year, Layton parade participants tossed candy from the sidelines to kids on the sidewalk, rather than have it thrown from the floats.
Sara Hurst, 43 of Layton, said her kids still got as much candy as in previous years, despite the change.
"My kids still got handfuls of candy thrown to them on the sidewalk," said Hurst, although she believed there wasn't necessarily ever a safety issue with kids running into the street to grab candy.
On the other hand, safety was a big concern for 32-year-old Heike Bammann, of Clinton, who has participated in a number of city parades with the Davis County Sheriff's Mounted Posse.
"In years past, we had kids run in front of the horses. They didn't realize how dangerous it was," said Bammann.