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INDEPENDENCE DAY: Hot fun in the summertime

Williston celebrates Independence Day

Observer photo by Dave Schmidt

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The Independence Day celebration in Williston unofficially begins around 2 p.m. on July 3.

That’s the time bookworms from near and far start lining up at the door of the Williston Central School gymnasium for the 4 p.m. commencement of the annual Dorothy Alling Memorial Library book sale.

Library Director Marti Fiske counted about 400 door busters this year.

“Our sales are higher in the first two hours than they will be all of the rest of the day tomorrow,” Fiske said.

At 6 p.m., as the last $1 hardcovers and 50-cent paperbacks of the day were being crammed into paper bags, hundreds of sneakers were toeing the starting line behind WCS for the kickoff of the Firecracker 5k Fun Run.

Cameron Fairbanks took first place in the Fun Run with a time of 17 minutes, 38 seconds. He was followed by Dan MacKay, who clocked in at 18:24.

The MacKay family also claimed the third and fourth overall places, with sisters Sarah and Rebekah MacKay tying for top female honors with a time of 18:52.

“We finished first and second, or first as one person. We held hands as we finished the race,” Sarah MacKay said during the post-race ice cream social on the Village Green. “It’s just a tradition with our family. We really like to run this race and do the whole ice cream social thing. We’ve done it since I was 10, and now I’m 28.”

Sarah MacKay is unlikely to forget this particular Fun Run. On Saturday, she’s getting married at Boyden Farm, with sister Rebekah serving as maid of honor.

Nor will the rest of Williston soon forget 2012’s Independence Day festivities, thanks to Jim Heltz of Green Mountain Video, whose video camera captured the holiday celebration for his upcoming film, “Williston Revisited: A Community Portrait,” a documentary he plans to complete prior to Williston’s 250th anniversary next year on June 7.

“It will be a true portrait of the town. The community is very much alive in Williston,” Heltz said during a break from filming Willistonians eating ice cream during the Williston Town Band’s first concert of the summer season.

Flash forward to 10 a.m. on July 4, when an ice cream cone wouldn’t have lasted two minutes in the blazing sun at the start of the Williston Independence Day Parade.

The parade was led by a Mustang convertible carrying Grand Marshal Lynwood Osborne, who recently announced that he will be retiring in February after 60 years of service with the Williston Fire Department.

“It went good,” Osborne said as he stood in the shade after his role in the parade was completed. “I just rode on the back of the Mustang and did a whole lot of waving.”

The parade entrants were many and varied, from The Haunted Forest’s Halloween-themed crew of skeletons and ghouls (winner of Best Theme Entry) to the lawn chair toting Sue Pasco Memorial Williston Precision Lawn Chair March and Drill Team and the Movement Center dance and music entourage, which blasted Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” from a Subaru Outback as it made its way down Williston Road.

As the parade tapered off into the distance, parade-goers drifted over to the Village Green, where the Williston Farmers’ Market was in full swing a full five hours before its normal Wednesday afternoon starting time.

In addition to the regular Farmers’ Market vendors, festivities included a bouncy castle for kids, $1 hot dogs from Williston Boy Scout Troop 692 and a face painting booth run by the husband and wife team of Sean and Jana Avram.

Gov. Peter Shumlin made an appearance around 1 p.m.

After shaking hands with the governor, soon-to-be WCS sixth-grader Bia Mele offered her unvarnished opinion of his first term in office.

“Just so you know,” Mele told the Observer, “Peter Shumlin’s probably the best governor we’ve ever had.”

Jacob Russo, who will enter his sophomore year at Champlain Valley Union High School in the fall, provided a summation of the Independence Day celebration.

“I like the festivities,” Russo said. “I really like how when you’re on summer break you get to see people here that you haven’t seen for a while. You can quote me on that.”