HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. — Fourth of July celebrations took hold in Hamilton County with festivities across each city.

People lined the streets in Noblesville to get a glimpse of their annual parade. The march kicked off shortly before 5 p.m. Hoosiers braved the heat and sun to catch a glimpse of their neighbors riding by on floats. Candy may have been the most frequent hand out, but bottles of water became the most popular.

“They have been passing out free waters walking by here,” said Ben Shipman while wearing a blue sequined cowboy hat and American flag sunglasses. “[My family] laughed when I walked out the door, and my oldest son said, ‘I don’t know who you are.'”

“We have been waiting for the parade, and we are so excited,” smiled Annie, a local 8-year-old watching the parade with her friend Avery. “I have been in the parade before. I have been in this parade and a Christmas parade.”

At Grand Park in Westfield, residents waited for their fireworks to start. They were entertained in part by their annual hot dog eating contest. Naval officer Peter Rusch is now a five-time champion. He devoured five dogs in 57 seconds.

“First year I was moving back to Indiana, my father saw it on the internet, and he was like, ‘Hey, you should go try that!’ It was the second year they ever had it, and with the exception of one break for COVID, I just keep winning it,” laughed Rusch. “I grew up in Kokomo, and I went off to the Navy. I came home to Indiana by choice. Fourth of July is really special to me. It reminds me what we have, and what we need to care about role and country.”

Westfield has become inadvertently synonymous with competitive eating ever since the legendary Joey Chestnut moved to town. On Monday, he crushed 63 hot dogs on route to winning his 15th Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

“If Joey wants to quit running away to New York every year on July 4th, and come on home, I will take you on Mr. Chestnut,” joked Rusch. “Clubber Lang is here waiting for his shot!”