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Bicycle riders in parade on the Fourth of July at Vale, Oregon, 1941.
Costumed bicycle riders in the Fourth of July parade at Vale, Oregon, 1941

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Fourth of July Celebrations
Back in the 1870s, the Fourth of July was "the big event of the year," according to Nettie Spencer, a pioneer from Portland, Oregon. The holiday included a parade with floats, a band, and a speaker. "First the speaker would challenge England to a fight and berate the King and say that he was a skunk. In the afternoon we had what we called the 'plug uglies'--funny floats and clowns who took off on the political subjects of the day," said Spencer. At that time, the Fourth of July made people think about what it meant to be independent from Britain.
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