Hundreds crowded the streets of Creswell on Fourth of July, cheering on an unpermitted parade that included horses, custom race cars, and members and organizers from far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys.
Sgt. Scott Denham from the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, who stopped by the farm north of town where parade-goers gathered Sunday morning, said officers would document the event and pursue citations later for those who violate the law.
“Anybody that participates in or organizes the parade is subject to citation for violation of any state or local laws or ordinances,” Denham said. “The biggest thing is we want people to be safe right now. We’ll worry about citations later probably. We’ll document — there’s three of us and way too many of them.”
Multiple event organizers declined to comment at its gathering spot.
According to Martha McReynolds Jr., a former Creswell city council member who opposed the event, the city and the Creswell Chamber of Commerce did not put on the parade this year due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city of Creswell hosted other Fourth of July events, such as a fireworks display and a military plane flyover, but did not sponsor this year’s rogue parade, which she said did not obtain a permit.
Flyers for the event advertised it as “the largest patriotic celebration in Oregon,” but McReynolds argues it was only a regular Fourth of July parade on the surface, and said she thinks it was a way to help recruitment for far-right groups that participated, such as the Proud Boys.
“They give this really nice facade and then if you scratch the surface at all, it becomes really clear,” McReynolds said. “Creswell does not want a far-right job faire and recruitment rally.”
She added that some counterprotesters who attacked a Black Lives Matter Protest in Creswell last November with flags were also involved in organizing Sunday’s event.
Several trucks had members of the Proud Boys wearing the group’s shirts who declined to give their names, holding “PB” signs. At least one person marching wore a shirt with a “Q” written on it representing believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Some in attendance wore full American flag suits and carried Donald Trump campaign signs. Roughly 20 people carried a massive American flag through the parade.
While a few watching along the sidewalk complained about some parade members’ political messages, many attendees were excited to see a larger Fourth of July parade compared to last year’s that was canceled due to COVID-19.
“It’s not supposed to be about politics, it’s about appreciating our nation, the freedom, what was the country founded to be, and do you like that and having various freedoms,” 34-year-old Veneta resident Eli Rosenau said.
Some other highlights from the parade included about 10 people riding on horses, who were protesting city code that prohibits riding horses through the town’s main drag, as first reported by Eugene Weekly.
“There’s the potential of us being fined, but it’s OK, it’s Fourth of July and it’s peaceful,” said Christine Kiedrowski, one of the riders.
Some others in the parade included Veterans of Foreign Wars, the group West Coast Hummers, and a variety of vintage cars.
Separate from the parade, the city is hosting a fireworks display at 10 p.m. from the Bald Knob Mill property.
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