The Spirit of ’76 came rolling, riding and rambling into Darien on July 4 with the town’s 11th annual Push-n-Pull Parade.

Many hundreds of families gathered at the Goodwives Shopping Center for a brief ceremony and a mammoth procession, which has become an Independence Day tradition. People were decked out in the red, white and blue, bicycles buffeted with flags and fanfare, wagons painted and prepared in the frilly, flowing and fun filigree of the holiday.

“It’s so exciting,” said Irene Caro of Darien, whose family was checking it out for the first time. “It’s a great tradition and it’s a great way to commemorate our veterans.”

“It’s also just nice to participate with the town,” said her husband, Victor, who was pulled their daughter Gloria, 2, in a wagon festooned in the holiday colors.

“We’ve done it every year since they were babies,” explained Paula Lane of Darien, whose husband, David, four children and dog donned decorative accents. “It’s just become part of our tradition.”

“It’s just a little piece of old-time Americana,” said David Lane. “It reminds me of when I was a kid.”

The parade was hosted by the Darien VFW Post 6933, which led the procession, accompanied by police personnel and several big fire trucks from the local departments.

“This is an exciting event,” said veteran Sharad Samy, the head organizer. “We’re so happy to be doing it this year.”

“What’s really special is that we have all these children here who have taken the time to decorate, and to be here,” he said. “That’s why we all served, for the children.”

“It’s our first time,” said Jennifer Fenge of Darien, who came with her two boys. “I love the patriotism, and the fact that the veterans are sponsoring the event.”

“It brings the community together,” she said.

The parade, which traveled out to the Post Road and up to Tilley Pond, was free, but a donation was suggested to benefit Post 6933’s restoration of the former Chapel of Fitch’s Home for Soldiers and their Orphans, the first veterans’ home in the United States, which was established after the Civil War.

Organizers also received help from a number of local businesses, with MKM Partners of Stamford serving as the title sponsor.

As always, one of the most important people at the parade was Uncle Sam, aka Joe Warren. The Darien native, who owns and operates Wild Birds Unlimited, was officially fitted for the costume several years ago.

“This is so much fun,” he said, taking time to greet kids and pose for pictures before the start of the parade.

“It’s short, simple (and) the kids have a good time,” he said. “As events go, this is one of the nicer ones.”