Celebrating liberty

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Doodles has officially retired.

The 7-year-old dachshund is a costume veteran, having won a first place for her Halloween costume as an Oscar Mayer wiener with two buns and a string of ketchup.

And on Sunday, Doodles closed out her pageant resume with the grand prize for the Patriot Parade at Cape Girardeau's Libertyfest. She was pulled around in a decorated red wagon that was no bigger than she was by 6-year-old Maddie Dockins.

"She's humiliated," owner Deedee Dockins said of Doodles, "but she stayed in."

But the entry was about more than winning the Uncle Sam Award and a $25 gift certificate to Port Cape restaurant.

"The Fourth is a teaching experience," said Dockins, 36, of Jackson.

For the past several months, she has been explaining to Maddie, her stepdaughter, why her friend's father is serving in Iraq. Maddie often points to the television when she sees soldiers and proudly asks, "Are those our American soldiers?" Dockins said.

To help Maddie understand that the holiday is more than passive observance when celebrating freedom, Dockins entered Maddie and Doodles into the parade.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 people flooded Downtown Cape Girardeau from around 5 p.m. to the time of the fireworks.

"People like being downtown," said Marsha Toll, chairwoman of the Libertyfest Committee. Some came early, drawn by the addition of family-friendly activities, which included a dunking booth, Shriner clowns, an inflatable jumping room and live-action historical characters who spoke with people.

Everett "Flippo the Clown" Scharenborg, 73, of Jackson entertained children by making balloon figures most of the evening.

"Kids, just getting around kids," Flippo said. "This is the bottom line."

In order to be comfortable on Sunday, he wore baggy pants, a polka-dot tie that hung to his knees and curly orange hair. The outfit was the one that best suited the humid yet breezy conditions.

'Outstanding display'

Changes in the fireworks display seemed to please people even more this year, Toll said.

"I think that for the size of our community and for our budget, we get such an outstanding display," she said.

The length of the fireworks display was extended to about 17 minutes and the variety was increased, said Catherine Dunlap, executive director of Old Town Cape. Another improvement included a cooperation with J and M Displays of Yarmouth, Iowa, a company that choreographed an "incredible display" that synchronized fireworks with the music that was chosen to play during the display, she said.

Jackson's celebration kicked off earlier in the day at 10 a.m. Among the events provided, the Jackson "American Idol" and Sumo wrestling were popular attractions.

Preteens Hannah Pilsner, Katie Bolen, Beth Stallings and Chelsey Jones sang "Katie and Tommy" by Trisha Yearwood for the karaoke contest. Replacing most of the lyrics with giggles and laughs, they sang as a group "because we're all best friends," said Pilsner. Bolen's boyfriend is named Tommy, so the best friends thought it would be fun to dedicate "Katie and Tommy" in honor of their relationship.

The best part of the day for preteens Jarrett Schwab and Kendal Green was sumo wrestling, they said.

Paying to participate four times already, Schwab said the experience was hot but fun.

"You get to wear helmets and look like a fat person and knock people down," he said. And knocking people down was what he did, frequently sending Green to the ground and body slamming him.

The Jackson Fourth of July celebration was Joe's Sumo Suits debut gig.

"I have been very fortunate," said Joe Edelbeck, owner of the business. "Everybody who's participated has told me that they've enjoyed it."

The suits weighed about 15 pounds each, measured about 4 feet around and were made of leather and foam.

jmetelski@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 127

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