APEX, N.C. (WNCN) — The Town of Apex got an early start on its Fourth of July celebration Monday morning.

The downtown celebration included a parade of wheels, inflatables, food and face painting. 

Emilie Nelson tells CBS 17 she brought her daughter Hazel to the event to teach her about the holiday and what it means.

“I think it’s just important for her to kind of get a little bit of culture out there and just see what it’s all about,” Nelson said.

WNCN photo/Joseph Holloway

While there was plenty of fun, there were two very clear messages made during today’s celebration: teaching the next generation about our freedoms and the importance of unity at a time with so much division.

“Everyone is looking for the country and also our town people to come together,” said Apex mayor Jacques Gilbert, who gave a speech focused on unity Monday morning.

The town also held its first ever fireworks display last night over at Hunter Street Park.