It's a tradition that dates back to the 1950s -- the City of Canyon's annual Independence Day celebration. Thousands of people lined the parade route -- more than two miles on Fourth Ave. -- some in a year's long family tradition and others for the first time. 

For Hazel Williams, who is from the Philippines, it was the first time she's seen the parade in the nine years she's been living in Amarillo.

"I am an American!" she proclaimed. "I've been Americanized and I've been an American since 2013. This is our independence celebration!"

Eddie Thornton and his wife traveled from the Dumas area to see the parade, also for the first time.

"We've always heard this was one of the better parades in this part of the country," he said. "A lot of my family was in the military and I lost classmates in the Vietnam war. Today means a lot to me. We're proud to be Americans."

Kirsten Iruegas, who lives and works in Canyon, comes annually with her family of eight.

"I'm here to be out with the community, get my kids out and have fun on this Fourth of July," she said. "Everyone comes together (today). It's a time of peace and joy in this ugly world that we live in. It's great for us to be able to have so many people in one spot, and we all get along. We're all friendly, we're all family here."

It's the ninth year the Wilson family assembled their brood of 14 and picked out a spot along the parade route.

"It's our family tradition and the kids just enjoy watching," said Candis Wilson. "We look forward to the play Texas with their music and seeing the vets as they go by."

Wilson said the day was not only about the parade but also about her history, American history.

"I think about my father and my grandfather -- their memory -- today. They were both vets," she said.

Jennifer Wilson added, "Her son and my son want to go into the military so it's big for them to be able to come out here and have their flags and see the vets. It's very honorable."

"We are the only one in the area who actually does our Fourth of July celebration on the fourth," said Elizabeth Carlson, Canyon Chamber of Commerce executive administrator. "We always have 30,000-40,000 people who line Fourth Ave. to come out and watch our parade."

Carlson said it takes nine months to orchestrate the parade. Every year it gets larger in terms of participants and the crowd size, but one thing stays the same.

"All of our military are VIPs in our parade; we put them at the front," she said. "We want to honor them ... they've done so much for us. Some of them have given their life to give us our freedom and it's important for us to honor that.

The big draw for the morning was not just the parade, but also the Fair on the Square -- filling Canyon's city center with vendors, comestibles, drinks and games. In the evening, fireworks at Connor Park were preceded by a concert featuring the Jen Williams Band and Buster Bledsoe.

"It's a family holiday," Carlson said. "We just want to have something fun (and free) that everyone can bring their family to ... especially the smaller communities who may not have anything offered that day. We welcome everyone to come to Canyon and enjoy our town."