The Seaside Independence Day celebration — Seaside’s most anticipated annual event — draws thousands eager to celebrate the holiday as only Seaside can, with whimsically decorated golf carts and vehicles; red, white and blue streamer-adorned bicycles; and creative America-themed floats for the morning’s parade that travels along Scenic Highway 30A. In the evening, revelers gather with blankets on the Seaside Amphitheater lawn for the musical entertainment each year as the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra performs Stars & Stripes at Seaside. The day’s events come to a dramatic ending in a patriotic light show of fireworks in the sky after sunset with the Seaside Fireworks Spectacular.
No one really knows the origins of the South Walton Fourth of July parade, which begins at Seagrove Plaza and heads west to Seaside. It started out in either 1986 or ’87 as a rather unorganized way for the few people who were here in the 1980s to celebrate the birth of our nation. “One part of the parade started in Grayton Beach and the other part would start in Seagrove and they would eventually converge in Seaside. And then it would be like the battle of parades. It was hysterical,” says Erica Pierce, general manager of Seaside Associated Stores and annual parade participant. “When they met in the middle they would just pass each other. There was no formality to it. I don’t even think the road was closed.”
During its early years, the parade was made up mostly of some local businesses and politicians. “Then people on vacation eventually got into it,” says Pierce. “Now it’s the most eagerly anticipated event of the year.”