The stars and stripes were flying on Main Street,  as hot air balloons rose on the parade ground at Virginia Military Institute.

A crowd gathered at the old Rockbridge County courthouse to hear members of the Mayor's Youth Council read the Declaration of Independence.

I think we can all celebrate the fact that we have our freedom," Jordan Arnold told us, "and we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. "

"My whole life I've been eating hot dogs and watching fireworks, but not really paying attention to what it's really about," said Sierra Elrod. "And I think this has kind of brought me back to reality."

Cody Hartley agreed. "And this event kind of helps get people into the July fourth spirit," he said.

And people came from near and far for the Children's Bike Parade.

Residents of The Mayflower assisted living facility made the short trip from their home on South Main Street.

The Slisinger family came from Michigan to visit relatives and make a second appearance in the parade. "It's a fun way to be with your family," Elizabeth Slisinger told us.

A parade that used to pass in the blink of an eye, now stretches down Main Street.

"I think it's really fun, because all of the kids can come together and just ride through the streets," said Grace Frascati.

Another generation waved the flag, and learned to appreciate the significance of the nation's birthday.