Christopher Creek will commemorate the Declaration of Independence from an oppressive and tyrannical monarch with a parade on Saturday, July 4. Nothing typifies patriotism more than a small-town Fourth of July parade and in this sense, the Creek rocks it in red, white, and blue. This year, in particular, it seems even more important that we celebrate our individual freedom by being a part of an event that recognizes the birth of our great nation.

After nearly a dozen years of the continually growing popularity of this event, we must step back a bit from the usual conduct of past years. With the announcement this week from our state government, particularly the mandate concerning the size of gatherings, parade officials have asked that we follow a few guidelines. When lining up, you are asked to remain in your vehicles as much as possible. The shady side of the Loop from the corner across from the fire station back toward Tall Pines Market is the assembly area, with vehicles heading west. It will remain up to each individual whether or not they wear protective masks. Spectators are asked to space appropriately along the route. If you consider both sides of the roads, this gives those watching the parade over two miles of places to afford them adequate room. We are asked not to all disperse in the Landmark parking lot as it will be observing the mandated guidance for the size of gatherings. Both restaurants will be open. Landmark will feature a tent out front with hot dogs and pulled pork. Creekside will have an entertainer on the patio for the dining public at noon after the parade. Both will feature dining entertainment in the evening. This year will feature Christopher Creek celebrity, Spencer, driving a side-by-side for his first time in the parade. Give him a big cheer as he passes. Bob and Peggy Wells are this year’s parade marshals and Peggy says, “My first visit to Christopher Creek was in 1948. I was on a fishing trip with my parents Doc and Verna Houck. We traveled on the old Bush Highway and it took us five hours because back in those days it was a dirt road. The following year my parents purchased a beautiful lot on Apple Lane from Old Man Ashby. We set up a cook tent and a sleep tent as we began building our summer home. After my parents retired they were very active in the community. My dad and several others would pack their lunch every day and head up the road to build the firehouse. My dad was the first president of the fire board. My mother and Mimi Tidwell helped organize the Firebelles. My husband and I continued their legacy when we retired. Bob was a member of the fire department and I became president of the Firebelles and, because of my nursing background, I became a volunteer EMT. Things I remember at the Creek: 1970 flood, the cornfield that the old-timers planted in what is now the church parking lot, great times at the old Landmark, celebrating our son’s wedding at the firehouse, bingo, and lots of great family experiences. We love Christopher Creek and just recently celebrated our 62nd wedding anniversary. Happy 4th of July, everyone, and thank you for this great honor. Stay safe!”

Remember the Firebelles will set up a bake sale in front of the mailboxes from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday, July 4.

Tuesday afternoon, the Tonto National Forest announced the closure of the forest. They had previously closed many organized camping sites. That’s OK — the last thing we need right now is some jackwagon with a campfire or fireworks. On June 28, Christopher-Kohls Fire District Captain Chad Stluka and his crew were returning from a 14-day deployment down on Mount Lemon and the Bighorn Fire. Traveling up SR 87 they were viewing the burn scar of the Bush Fire and noting the “ash-devils” stirred by the winds. Then they came upon a plume of smoke that would become known as the Gold Fire. They were first on scene and spent an hour on the initial attack with help from Payson Hotshots.

Our month-long reminiscence of local events during the Dude Fire has received some feedback worth noting. Red and Jo Armistead bought the service station and market in 1978. At the dining table in their home in Hunter Creek, they told me their son, Dennis, was left in charge of the service station while Red joined fire department volunteers pulling hoses and applying fire retardant to the roofs of 15 homes in the Baptist Camp area, along with Everett Griffin and Pam Milhon. He recalled the teams of Navajo Hotshots running into the smoke to dig hand lines ahead of the fire. As one team disappeared, the second team came running out. Jo told us that all meats, cheeses, and bread from Jo’s Market went out to folks making sandwiches for the firefighters. Susan Keown tells of coming from the Valley to evacuate her horse. She successfully made it through the first roadblock at Star Valley but was turned back at Control Road. She ended up running the second roadblock, sneaking through behind a pickup pulling a horse trailer. The Creek sends a big shout out to all the firefighters statewide ... and that’s another week in the Creek.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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