Island Mayor Pro Tem Paul Munarriz greeted the participants of the annual Independence Day parade by saying proudly on the bullhorn, “Good morning SPI and happy birthday America!”

Hundreds of American patriots from the Island, the Valley and around the country met early yesterday morning to celebrate the Fourth of July with a patriotic procession.

“This Fourth of July Parade has been around for several years and it just seems to grow every year,” said Keith Arnold, Island Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director. “It’s a good way for us to pay tribute to America and show patriotism.”

The patriotic march was like no other happening around the country. It started on the silky soft sands at the Gay Dawn city beach access point and ended at the Starlight beach access where everyone enjoyed bottles of water and watermelon donated by the Island CVS and Councilwoman Alita Bagley.

Many spectators watched comfortably on the edge of the shore near the ebb and flow of the Gulf’s water as the parade passed by. Many of them were also showing their patriotism by waiving U.S. flags, recording the parade with their phones and smiling as the more than 100 participants passed by.

Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark employees led the American independence march as they waived many tall American flags in the air proudly.

This year’s parade marked the city’s ninth annual Fourth of July Parade headed up by the Parks and Recreation Committee and Keep SPI Beautiful.

Arnold said the parade not only involves the residents but people who are visiting the Island.

One Edinburg family visiting the Island attended the parade with the intention of being some of the many spectators but decided to take the patriotic trek together.

“It was nice and it was a good walk,” said Marla Hernandez of Edinburg. “With the different things going on with immigration this year and things like that — it’s good to remember we are very fortunate and lucky compared to the immigrants that are coming to our country.”

Marla walked in the parade with her husband Willie and two daughters.

“We thought we were going to watch the parade not be in it.”

The Hernandez family like many of the other parade participants waived U.S. flags in red, white and blue to show their patriotism.

“It’s a great event and it’s fun to be a part of,” Arnold said. “It’s good for the community, good for the area and nobody else has a beach like this to celebrate Independence Day.”