As antique cars rolled along Rogers Avenue in the 14th annual Mount Washington Spirit of Independence Day parade, one stuck out more than any other. It looked like a fancy soap box derby car, and its owner, Dan Meisner said it was "manufactured right here in Mount Washington."
The car, with Meisner's 3-year-old daughter, Ethna, riding in the passenger seat, was a homemade Lotus 7. The real thing sells for around $50,000, Meisner said, but he bought blueprints for a 1959 Lotus 7 for about $2,000 in 2001 and spent several years building it with a body made of aluminum and a frame made of steel tubing.
Meisner, 44, of Mount Washington, said he bought a nose cone for the car on eBay England. He also got fenders for free at a car show, he said.
"I really love the Lotus 7," he said, but admitted, "It's terrifying when you get out on the highway. The trucks throw up a ton of debris."
On the other hand, 5-year-old Ellis Geisen's car really was a soap box derby, with no engine. It was made to look like a police cruiser, but was festooned with balloons and flags. The family bought it online, complete with the word "Hemi" printed on it.
"He wants to be a police office when he grows up," said Ellis' mother, Colleen Geisen, of Mount Washington. She said Ellis decorated the car.
Helping Ellis push the police car around was Alex Marbach, 11, of Mount Washington.
"I'm a police oficer in training," Alex said.
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Ellis got into the Fourth of July spirit so much that his hair was dyed red on one side and blue on the other side. But there was no white in his hair.
"Maybe in a good 40 years," his mother said.
The parade in Mount Washington was bookended by pre-and-post-parade activities at the retirement community Springwell Senior Living, 2211 W. Rogers Ave, including live music (both a trombone band and a rock band), a moon bounce and contests for best human and pet costumes.
Parade organizers said before the Fourth that they were trying to get more people in the habit of dressing up in red, white and blue, because a lot of people have gotten out of the habit. But Ellis wasn't the only parade goer with colorful decorations. Lisa Meyer, 45, wore what she called "a patriotic lei" around her neck, as did her two dogs, Collies Lady and Lassie. They were also on "glitter leashes," Meyer said.
"They lost their bows earlier," she said.
Like an estimated 600 to 800 people in attendance, Meyer, 45, a part-time saleswoman at the Talbots women's clothing store in the Village of Cross Keys shopping center, was very much in the spirit of the day.
"Mount Washington is beautiful," she said. "You have to celebrate the Fourth of July with your neighbors and friends."