Fourth of July in Ames: pancakes and parades

Hundreds gather to eat pancakes at the 13th annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast in Ames. 

Devyn Leeson

The City of Ames and Downtown Ames set a busy schedule this July 4, with a pancake breakfast, parade and more.

Starting at 8:30 a.m., members of the Ames community gathered to eat pancakes and sausages served to them by workers of the City of Ames and the City Council.

According to Susan Gwiasda, public relations officer for the City of Ames, the pancake breakfast has been happening for 13 years, around the same time the city parade started.

“We are one of the larger cities that do this type of breakfast,” Gwiasda said. “It is really to bring the community together. When it started off, we wanted to do it by neighborhood but since then it has morphed into this idea of a family friendly way to start your Fourth of July. You know, people come here.

“They eat the pancakes and meet their fellow community members and the City Council,” Gwiasda said.

For Gwiasda, the importance of the pancake breakfast was to set the tone of togetherness and unity.

“It has been a Fourth of July tradition,” Gwiasda said. “I am glad to see many of the same faces every year. Their kids are getting bigger and they still love coming.”

For Ward Two representative Tim Gartin, his favorite part of the event was “easy” to choose.

“It is just seeing all of these people come out and come together,” Gartin said. “It is so much fun.”

Gartin, like Gwiasda, said he enjoys the togetherness the event brings.

“The Fourth of July is a nonpartisan holiday and everyone here comes together to celebrate the same things,” Gartin said. “It’s a wonderful thing. No one is a Democrat or a Republican today, just citizens celebrating our independence.”

Some, like Ames resident Ellis McBrayer, said they will try to make the breakfast a yearly tradition. McBrayer said the atmosphere of the pancake breakfast is what appeals the most to him.

“My favorite part is the people,” McBrayer said. “I like the pancakes obviously, but everyone is so friendly and there are dogs everywhere.

“It’s just the community environment,” he said.

This community environment is what Ames resident Kellie Rains says sets Ames and its Fourth of July apart from other cities.

“We do it differently,” Rains said. “There is so much community involvement, and the many events we do prior to and following the parade show that we are different.”

As people had their fill of pancakes, the streets following the parade route slowly filled, Starting at 11 a.m., the parade started with this years two grand marshals.

The first was American Legion post 32, who are celebrating their 100 year anniversary. The second was mayor John Haila, who was selected in celebration of his first year as mayor in addition to commemorating his years of public service prior to being mayor.

According to Haila, his favorite part of the Fourth of July celebrations is “seeing the diverse people who call Ames home and being able to interact with them.”

This year, the parade had nearly 90 different groups participating. Some onlookers, like Cheryl Dunkin and her daughter, were excited for the diverse set of groups.

“I am excited for the pride groups,” Dunkin said.

Stefani Ostendorf, another Ames resident at the parade, said she was excited to see people she knew in the parade.

“You will be watching and suddenly you see someone you know or a business you didn’t expect to see in the parade,” Ostendorf said.

Some, like Sondra Samp, were looking forward to seeing specific people in the parade including her son in boy scouts.

“We just really enjoy it and it’s a good time,” Samp said.