Decked out in patriotic attire spectators began lining the streets hours before the city’s 9 a.m. July 4 Parade.
Themed “America’s Pastime,” San Pedro Valley revelers turned out Thursday for Benson’s Independence Day celebration starting with the 6 a.m. sunrise flag raising and mural unveiling at a local business, to the parade and dazzling fireworks spectacular — and everything in between.
R&R Pizza hosted the morning flag raising ceremony and program in which the latest mural from Doug Quarles was unveiled and its significance explained with regard to the historic plight of the Mormon Battalion.
Mother Nature provided the perfect, nighttime backdrop for the evening performances at Lions Park, culminating with another stunning rendition of the national anthem by Lisi Harris, the second of the day for the Benson resident. Lisi’s morning performance set the immediate tone for the parade with the VFW Honor Guard members Warren Johnson and Jack Coons leading the way.
The hourlong parade featured 55 entries. “... Not bad for a non election year,” commented parade committee member Savanah Quiroz.
Geoff Oldfather, with JD Wallace, kept parade viewers — at least those within earshot of the emcee tent on Fifth Street — entertained, along with the Arizona G&T Cooperative sound team.
Parade awards went to Del’s Tire in the motorized category. Best float went to Benson Hospital, best mounted entry went to Benson Butterfield Rodeo Royalty, best performance went to Benson High School Spiritline, best marching, Linda Lou Lamb with Benson Hospital receiving the Standing Ovation Award for the best overall entry, said Quiroz.
“I enjoy the parade,” said longtime Benson resident Willie Askins, in his usual spot near Benson Historical Museum. “Benson’s July 4 celebration is good… I like it,” he said, commenting on the number of parade entries.
Festivities at Lions Park got the overall thumb’s up as well with vendors and full day’s lineup of live entertainment and food.
Benson took the three-team water fight with Pomerene coming in second and St. David third.
Nightlife kicked off the live entertainment beneath the Large Ramada with the Tombstone-based band offering a mixed set of classic country, rock and Mexican music, eliciting a fair share of dancers to the floor. Cochise County Line Band, Mariachi Alegre, Benson Barbershoppers, Sound Check, the BHS Dance Cats, and the Alumni Community Band all drew rave reviews.
“It’s really nice,” said Benson resident Marie Davis, of the day’s festivities. “I like how Benson comes together for this… I like it. It’s good for the children and it’s good for the teens to see how the town comes together like this — I think it’s great.”
The water slides kept the boys and girls cooled and the fireworks drew the usual “oohs and ahhs” from attendees, followed by an hour of dancing with Arizona Thunder Productions.
And by all accounts, Benson’s Fourth celebration was another rousing success.
A traffic stop Wednesday resulted in seizure of nearly five ounces of methamphetamine and the arrest of a Huachuca City woman.
Kathryn Merrill, 44, is charged with drug related counts following the “early morning” incident, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Merrill has been booked on charges of possession of a dangerous drug, transportation of a dangerous drugs, transportation of dangerous drugs for sale and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.
The SO’s Street Crimes Unit conducted the “civil traffic violation” stop in the 800 block of N. Ocotillo Road of the vehicle driven by Merrill, CCSO spokeswoman Carol Capas said via the news release.
“During the traffic stop, a Sheriff’s Office canine checked the exterior of the vehicle and alerted to the odor of narcotics. A search of the vehicle was conducted and approximately five ounces (three eights of a pound) of Methamphetamine concealed with-in a natural void of the vehicle was located,” states the news release.
Merrill was in custody in Cochise County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bond. Investigation continues, authorities said.