With campaigns for the 2008 elections kicking into high gear, politics took center stage. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., were the star attractions.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, led the charge of politicians and their supporters on the route down Main Street. Along with him were Story County Democrats and Huxley Dr. Selden Spencer, who will try again to unseat Rep. Tom Latham, R-Alexander.
Perhaps the strongest presence, however, was that of supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a libertarian opposed to the war in Iraq and the Internal Revenue Service.
"This is the first time in my life that I have 100 percent belief in a candidate," said Roland resident Colleen Chapa, who worked a tent for Paul. "He's a man of integrity; he doesn't play the political games."
Even a relatively unknown candidate for president got his time in the spotlight.
Karl Krueger, a Democrat from Sioux Falls, S.D., walked alone at the end of the parade route shouting his name and aspirations to the crowd.
"(I want to) get us off the energy nipple, and I've limited my contributions to $50. Get the money out of politics," he said.
Although Romney missed most of the parade, Brownback rode atop his campaign vehicle before both men later visited with supporters at their respective campaign headquarters on Main Street.
"To me, the parade, Fourth of July, is a great opportunity to do retail politics," Brownback said, adding that people appreciate talking to candidates face-to-face over seeing them on television.
Romney Iowa campaign spokesman Tim Albrecht said, "We're traveling all over Iowa, and we're not going to take any votes for granted. Gov. Romney has a strong record as governor in Massachusetts, a conservative in a very liberal state."
Not everyone had such a fond impression of Romney, however.
A protester carried a "Yes for dogs, no for Romney" sign in one hand while pushing a dog, Sandy, in a baby stroller in front of marchers for Romney near the end of the route.
"If he can't even manage his own family pet, I don't see how he can manage a country," said a young woman, a self-described Republican and student who wished to remain anonymous.
She handed out "Dog lovers against Romney" flyers in response to revelations from the Boston Globe that the candidate once drove the family dog in a rooftop carrier on a trip from Boston to Ontario.
Even nonpolitical participants had their ulterior motives.
The Ames Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry showered parade-goers with Trident sugar-free gum, likely in an effort to combat tooth decay resulting from the plethora of candy dispersed along the route.