July 16, 2019

Independence Day spirit endures through changes

Observer file photo
The annual Independence Day parade is a treasured, long-standing Williston event.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Williston’s celebration of Independence Day begins Tuesday with the annual Firecracker Fun Run and ice cream social and continues Wednesday with a morning parade and evening fireworks.

While circumstances have resulted in some changes to the celebration, it promises to be as festive as ever.

The Williston/Richmond Rotary Club will play a larger role in this year’s event. The local service organization has traditionally grilled hamburgers on the village green during the afternoon before the fireworks display. This year, in addition to grilling up burgers, the group will also help organize the Firecracker Fun Run the night before.

Parks and Recreation Director Todd Goodwin learned in the spring that the group that had organized the race the past two years — the American Cancer Society — would not be able to return for 2018.

The Cancer Society was the beneficiary of funds raised from the race and had an on-site presence at start/finish line in Williston Community Park. Race registration was also handled on the Cancer Society’s website.

Goodwin said the Cancer Society employee who headed up the event was no longer with the organization, and a replacement race organizer could not be found within the organization.

That’s when Williston Town Clerk and Rotarian Deb Beckett suggested Rotary as a race organizer and beneficiary of funds raised.

“It was a way for them to help us out and for us to give the proceeds to them and help in their mission,” Goodwin said. “They were already involved in the event, so it’s a good match.”

The Williston/Richmond Rotary Club was founded 20 years ago and is known for its annual Easter egg hunt at Williston Central School and for donating Thanksgiving meal baskets to local families. Rotary also builds wheel chair ramps for those in need, grants scholarships to local high school students, provides heating fuel assistance and sponsors foreign exchange students.

The club has about 35 members that meet every Thursday morning for breakfast at the Williston Federated Church.

“We are excited this year to sponsor the Firecracker Run,” Rotary president Mike Isham said. “As a club, we wish to be a part of the community and just give back.”

Preregistration for the run is available at willistonrec.org. All entry fees will be paid on race day. Runners who preregister will be guaranteed a commemorative t-shirt. Runners can also register at the event. But race-day registrants will not be guaranteed a shirt, Goodwin said.

Rotarians will help with registration, t-shirt distribution and guide runners along the 5-kilomoter route through the park, up Old Stage, Mountain View and North Williston roads, and back into the park.

Due to construction at Williston Central School, the annual July Fourth Book Sale organized by the Friends of the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library has been cancelled.

Ann Park, Friends of the Library secretary/treasurer and longtime book sale organizer, has been named grand marshal of the July Fourth parade. She was nominated by fellow Friends of the Library member Barbara Mieder.

“She has been a tireless volunteer at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library for over 30 years,” Mieder wrote of Park in her nomination letter to the town’s Recreation Committee. “She has been involved with the Friends of the Library from the time of its inception … She is diligent in caring for the funds that the book sale raises, and has overseen their use to fund programs at the library, plant the library’s gardens and help with roof repairs among other things.

“She would be an excellent choice for this year’s parade marshal.”

In addition to the absence of the book sale, the Williston Community Food Shelf’s fill-a-vehicle food donation campaign will also take a hiatus this year. For the past four years, the food shelf has placed either a truck, car or bus on the village green throughout the day on the Fourth for residents to fill with food donations.

Food shelf board member Jen Daudelin said the organization’s activities committee decided to pass this year.

“It was successful, it’s just a matter of organizing it and finding a vehicle to fill. It basically came down to logistics, and we chose not to do it,” she said.

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