Sun breaks through clouds for parade (7/9/09)

July 9, 2009
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

The sun made a rare cameo appearance this past weekend, just in time for Williston’s annual Independence Day Parade. In a summer that has so far been uncharacteristically cool and rainy, the heat of the sun was a welcome addition to the nearly hour-long event.


    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Samuel de Champlain (aka Robert Drake) arrives in Williston by canoe with a Native American companion in the Williston Richmond Rotary float, which celebrates the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s arrival in the region in 1609.

This year’s theme — the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival at the lake that now bears his name — brought out creativity among neighborhood and business parade floats. A few different Messieurs Champlains attended the parade, waving to crowds and tossing candy to the children lining the parade route.

Not only were these French explorers playing it up for the crowd, but they were also impressing the judges of the parade floats as they ambled by. One judge had a unique strategy on how to decide this year’s float winners: “Whoever throws the most candy to me,” joked judge Jeff Fehrs, also a Selectboard member.

Along with Fehrs, incoming Williston-Richmond Rotary President and former Selectboard member Andy Mikell and Recreation Committee member Jim Haug helped judge the floats.

Williston’s Fourth of July celebrations began on Thursday, July 2 with the Family Bike Races. On Friday evening, races continued with the Firecracker 5K Fun Run. Following the run were the annual Town Band concert and ice cream social. Due to Friday’s wet weather, the social moved from the Village Green to Williston Central School’s covered entryway.

Terry Macaig, president of the Williston Historical Society, chairman of the Selectboard and state representative, said the social kicked off a few minutes before 7 p.m. Residents were able to take their ice cream into the school, where the Town Band played in the auditorium.


    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Melissa Lefcourt, 8, enjoys a pre-parade patriotic cupcake from Michelle Trudell’s My Little Cupcake booth at the Williston Farmers’ Market.

This year, the Historical Society and the WING Green Initiatives group teamed up to present a waste-free ice cream social. Macaig said it proved to be a success with organizers and attendees.

“The idea is that we’ll continue this in the following years,” he said.

Macaig also estimated the social grossed around $1,500, much of which will be donated to the Williston Community Food Shelf.

Along with the forthcoming donation from the Historical Society, the Food Shelf also had a successful food and money drive on July Fourth. Volunteers marched in the parade, accompanied by a pickup truck where they stored non-perishable food items. All along the route, parade-goers routinely walked up to Food Shelf volunteers to donate food and money.

Jeanne Jensen, vice president of the Food Shelf, said volunteers were able to fill nearly three-quarters of the back of the truck by the end of the parade route. Jensen also said the Food Shelf raised $1,800.

“That will go a long way toward helping us cover the unexpected increase in families needing help that we are seeing this summer,” Jensen said.

The Dorothy Alling Memorial Library also held its biggest fundraiser of the year with its book sale. Library Director Marti Fiske said the library netted around $5,850, approximately $1,000 less than last year.

Fiske said fewer hardcover books, which sell for more than paperbacks, were donated this year. The number of donations was down as well, since this year’s sale was not combined with Richmond’s.

After the parade, many people visited the Williston Farmers’ Market, held for the first time in conjunction with the Fourth of July celebrations. Before the parade ended, Kevin Perry of Perry’s Pickles of Burlington said he looked forward to the potential increase in business.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be a good day,” Perry said.

Lisa Boutin of the Boutin Family Farm hoped the event would bring more exposure to the Farmers’ Market.

“We’re hoping this will be better than other fairs and lets people know we’re down here,” Boutin said.

Even during a brief shower around noontime, Williston residents stayed in the village to enjoy the market and frog-jumping contest. As the light rain ended in the evening, revelers descended upon Allen Brook School to enjoy the fireworks show and cap off another Fourth of July in celebration of the birthday of the United States.