Thousands of people lined the streets of Anchorage for the annual Fourth of July parade.

Cadets from the Alaska Military Youth Academy (AMYA) kicked off the festivities, leading the line of floats around the Delaney Park Strip.

“This is the first Fourth of July parade I’ve been in,” said Garrett Canada. “It’s a big event and it’s cool to represent the academy as the first sergeant. It means a lot to me because people are counting on me to represent the Corps in the right way.”

AMYA works with at-risk youth ages 16 to 18– teens who may have dropped out of college. The academy gives them a chance to work for their GED or high school diploma.

The 180 cadets split into three groups, each calling out their own cadences.

“The cadences are unique for the academy and they help keep us in step,” Canada explained. “Instead of simple cadences like ‘Left, left, left, right, left,’ it’s way better when it changes it up. And you get someone who has soul and rhythm and you can feel how they’re saying it.”

Gaudy Cabrera, 16, is a 1st Platoon Sergeant. Her family is originally from the Dominican Republic.

“Fourth of July to me is a way to show that I do love this country and I am American. A lot of people tend to think just because you’re not originally from the U.S. that you can’t have a lot of American pride, but I have a lot of American pride,” Cabrera said.

Parade goers showed their support as Cabrera and the other cadets put their best foot forward.

“It shows our hard work isn’t just behind closed doors, that we do get to show our hard work and hard effort and everything we’re putting into this academy,” Cabrera said.

The academy gives the teens a chance to be a part of the community — a community they’re proud to serve in return.