McNeill Celebrates Community, Good Cause

MCNEILL (WLOX) -- In Pearl River County, the McNeill community has a 4th of July tradition that brings the community together for a cause.

The McNeill Volunteer Fire Department kicked off its 4th of July celebration with a hometown parade. Fire departments from surrounding communities joined the fun to show their patriotism and solidarity.

Frances Alsobrooks looks forward to the colorful parade each year. She's watched it from her front yard for the past 33 years.

"It's exciting. It's our way of celebrating the 4th of July," Alsobrooks said.

The parade kicked off a day long celebration with food, gospel music and fun for the kids. Proceeds from the bash will benefit the McNeill Volunteer Fire Department.

"We've been raising money to get matching funds for grants and things like that to get our fire trucks. It looks like this year it's going to go into the fuel tanks. Our fuel bill is just outrageous," McNeill Volunteer Fire Chief Melvin Gildewell said.

Helping the volunteer department raise funds on the 4th has become a community tradition.

"Any cause that we all can stand together for and be united in, brings us closer together. There's something wonderful to be said about somebody who would go out and put their life on the line for something they're not even getting paid for," Lumberton resident Theresa Bullock said.

The fire department also used the occasion to honor its chief.

"We have a gentleman that has been actively involved in the fire department from its conception - Melvin R. Gildewell. 35 years of faithful service," Pearl River County resident Billy Galloway said. "We acknowledge the unselfishness you've given to the McNeill Community. Thanks for a job well done."

The celebration wrapped up Friday night with a fireworks show near the McNeill Volunteer Fire Department.