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Parade organizers search for local pride

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Neighborhood spirit sought for Independence Day festivities

June 30, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

The Fourth of July has always been a celebration of national independence. Organizers of the corresponding festivities in Williston want it to be about local pride, too.

Kevin Finnegan, director of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, is encouraging residents to join together and represent their respective neighborhoods in the annual Independence Day parade, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 4, at Johnson’s Farm on Williston Rd.

Finnegan said that the “best neighborhood entry” category has been a longtime tradition in the town’s parade, but has been hurt by a lack of participation during recent Independence Day celebrations.

“The last few years, we’ve only had one neighborhood – Southridge Drive – enter, so they’ve been automatic winners,” Finnegan said. “It would be nice to see some of the town’s other neighborhoods get involved again.”

Finnegan said that as of earlier this week, the only neighborhood registered to participate in this year’s parade was Lefebvre Lane. The winning neighborhood traditionally receives a celebratory party, supplied by the town and other local organizations.

The call for more local camaraderie fits the theme of this year’s parade: “We The People.” Float organizer Tony Lamb said that he and fellow organizers work hard to “paint” the parade into a well-composed mixture of marchers, floats, music and other elements.

“Everybody wants to be in the front,” Lamb said. “It can be an organizational nightmare, but it’s a blast.”

The celebration officially kicks off with a series of family bike races at the Williston Community Park Field House on Saturday at 6 p.m. Planned categories include adult, kid and family races, as well as scooter and “slowest bike” races.

The weekend continues with the annual “Firecracker 5K Fun Run” on Sunday, also at the Community Park. Registration begins at 4:45 p.m., with the starting gun slated to go off at 6 p.m. Placements will be awarded in seven individual age groups for males and females, as well as a family category. The cost is $8, and includes a race T-shirt.

Awards from the race will be given out at a special town band concert and ice cream social beginning at 7 p.m. The Williston Historical Society will host the social, which will feature the town band’s first concert of the summer season.

A library book sale on Monday in the Williston Central School Gym will commence at 9 a.m., one hour before the annual Independence Day parade. The grand marshal for this year’s parade will be Terry Macaig, a U.S. Representative from Williston and the chairman of its Selectboard.

“It certainly is a great honor,” Macaig said. “The parade is a great community builder; people from everywhere come to Williston for it.”

The master of ceremonies for this year’s parade will be Mike Detch, who took over last year for the late Mike Coates. Finnegan said that Detch’s performance at the 2010 parade warranted his return this year.

“Mike did a great job last year, so we’re going to stick with him,” Finnegan said.

Finnegan listed a number of local businesses that will be first-time participants in the parade this year. Adam’s Farm Market, Gentleman’s Top Option, Texas Roadhouse and Purple Sage Salon will be among those taking a maiden-voyage float ride on July 4th.
“The parade has grown steadily every year,” Lamb said. “As people move into the community and get more comfortable with what happens on the Fourth of July, they want to join and be a part of it.”

In addition to the best neighborhood entry category at the parade, several other categories will also be judged: best business entry, best theme, best community organization or group, best church, best band, best entry with music, best individual, best entry with children, judges’ favorite car, judges’ favorite tractor and judges’ award.

The winners in each category will be announced at a presentation at the bandstand on the town green following the parade at 12:30 p.m. An arts and crafts show, frog jumping contest, cookouts and other activities are also planned for Monday.

Fireworks facts

This year’s fireworks – purchased by the town from Atlas Fireworks at a cost of $8,500, according to Town Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan – will be presented at 9:30 p.m. SuperSounds DJ service will provide music prior to the show.

The Fourth of July celebration wouldn’t be complete without the annual tradition of buying a town-produced T-shirt. Williston Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan designed this year’s shirts (shown above) with help from Mills & Greer Sporting Goods. T-shirt vendors will be located at several events. Shirts are $8 each, which covers the cost of producing them, Finnegan said. Sizes youth small to adult XXL will be available. After the holiday, any leftover shirts will be for sale at the Town Clerk’s office.

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