Fourth of July festivities kick off Friday

Observer courtesy photo Jenn Oakes, longtime Williston Central School physical education teacher who retired this year, will be the parade’s grand marshal.
Observer courtesy photo
Jenn Oakes, longtime Williston Central School physical education teacher who retired this year, will be the parade’s grand marshal.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston is getting ready to join Americans across the nation in celebrating Independence Day.

This is Recreation Director Todd Goodwin’s first year organizing the festivities, and he said he’s heard plentiful praise for Williston’s celebration.

“From what I’ve heard, all aspects of the July Fourth events and activities are special and worthwhile for everyone to come out and be part of the community and this special event,” he said.

So far, he added, things are falling to place.

The town selected the theme “Community Begins Here” for this year’s celebration, picked from residents’ idea submissions.

The town’s events begin Friday night with the opening of the annual library book sale. The two-day event begins July 3 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Williston Central School gym.

“We have plenty of donated books. It will be another good sale,” said Ann Park, secretary and treasurer of the Friends of the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library.

Hardcover books are $1.50, paperbacks 75 cents. Children’s books are 25 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents for hardcovers.

“You can buy 10 hardcover books for under $20—that’s what one costs at a bookstore or on a Kindle,” Park said. “You also support the library. The money gets cycled right back into the library for the community.”

The Friends of the Library are still looking for volunteers.

“The biggest need is when the sale ends at 2 on the Fourth,” Park said. “Any books that didn’t get sold, we have to put in boxes and put on pallets. Usually there are not many people around then.”

Friday night’s events include the Firecracker 5K Fun Run. Registration begins at 5 p.m. at the Williston Community Park, and the starting gun sounds at 6 p.m. Also on Friday night, the annual ice cream social and Town Band concert begins at 7 p.m., hosted by the Williston Historical Society. Ice cream is $3 per person, free for those under 5.

The Fourth of July is packed with Williston activities.

The book sale reopens at 9 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m. The parade will wind along Vermont Route 2A from Johnson’s Farm to Old Stage Road from 10 to 11 a.m. Anyone who would like to take part in the parade is encouraged to sign up on the Parks and Recreation Department’s website, All are welcome.

Prizes will be awarded for Best of Parade, Best Business, Best Individual/Neighborhood, Best Community Organization and Judges Choice.

After the parade, activities and food concessions will be held on the village green. There will be children’s games, face painting, inflatables and the annual frog jumping contest.

The Williston Community Food Shelf is also hosting a “Fill a Police Car” food drive. Residents are encouraged to bring non-perishable, undamaged, in-date food items to donate.

The Williston Fire Department will host an open house on July 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The open house includes station and fire truck tours, fire extinguisher training from 11 to 11:45 a.m., car seat inspections, children’s safety activities and a Jaws of Life demonstration at noon. The station will serve free hot dogs and drinks starting at 11:30 a.m.

In the evening, residents can gather for the fireworks, which begin at dark—organizers estimate the start time at 9:30 p.m.—at Allen Brook School. Before the fireworks go off, the Timothy James Blues & Beyond Band will entertain the crowd.

Residents should park at the Williston Central School—saving the limited parking at Allen Brook School for those who need it—and utilize the free shuttle running from the school from 7 p.m. until dark, then back again after the show.