The red, white and blue was out in full force last summer in Okoboji’s Des Moines Beach neighborhood.

Those colors are a fairly common sight in the Iowa Great Lakes throughout the summer, but around this time of year they take on a deeper meaning and bring patriotism and love of country front and center.

Block parties abound this time of year, and for almost two decades Des Moines Beach has taken their annual Independence Day celebration to the highest level.

Costume contests, plenty of cherry pie and red, white and blue cupcakes, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Pledge of Allegiance and a full-fledged parade make this tradition quite fun to behold.

Stormy weather on the Fourth of July last year pushed the celebration back a few days, but that wasn’t going to put a damper on the festivities once the clouds cleared.

Opening comments from longtime residents Lou and Joan Schwartz emphasized the history of the day and the importance of remembering those who’ve paved the way for the freedoms enjoyed in the United States.

Decked out in their best Fourth of July outfits, the parade begins. Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty often make appearances and last year actual homemade parade floats were added to the festivities for the first time.

A police escort leads the way down Lakeshore Drive to Fort Dodge Point, where the parade turns toward the lake and follows a sidewalk along the shoreline for the return trip.

“God Bless the U. S. A,” “This Land is Your Land,” “Living in America,” and other patriotic staples pour out from Bluetooth speakers as the paraders meander along the route.

Once back to the Schwartz lawn, a ceremony unfolds at dusk featuring the lowering of the Union Jack and raising of the American flag accompanied by the playing of “Taps.”

From there the neighborhood settles in to their various docks and lawn chairs passing the time until the fireworks display from Smith’s Bay.

Bright colors bursting high in the sky are a perfect cap to a wonderful neighborhood tradition in Okoboji.