Calm has been restored to Riverside following an eventful and fun-filled celebration Independence Day weekend in Riverside, which started on the evening of July 3 with a party in Guthrie Park that included three bands and food and drink from local establishments.
July 4 began early with the 5K run, followed by the parade. Parade participants were many with people lining Longcommon to watch. The presence of the Riverside-Brookfield High School Band was most impressive. More than 100 strong, they marched their way through town and drew applause, led by music directors Kevin McOlgan, Diane Marelli and James Baum.
Then came the float that has been a mainstay in the parade for 44 years, the A.R.R.S.S. or Audubon Road Residents Social Society. Each year the residents get together and choose an idea for their float, most of the time reflecting the parade’s theme.
The actual float-building takes place in the evenings, usually in the Jansky or Wilk backyard on a flat-bed trailer that has seen many a parade and which is pulled by a pick-up truck driven by either Jon Jansky or Jack Wilk. Both men have been on the float since they were little boys. Now another generation is upon the float – the third generation, with grandchildren of the original float participants doing their parade wave.
The closeness of the residents of Audubon Road exists throughout the year, but most obvious to all on July 4. Their participation in the parade is followed by a block party attended by present and former members of the block and their families. This year there seemed to be more umbrella tables and canopies then ever. For many years when trophies were given to float winners, the trophies would proudly be displayed because Audubon Road always won a trophy.
What touched me this year and last year by the Audubon Float was the choice to honor the Benes family, who were longtime residents of Audubon Road. In February 2010 tragedy struck when fire destroyed their home and resulted in Dolores Benes’ death.
The 2010 float was in her memory of and the 2011 float was in memory of Ray Benes, who passed away this year. The couple and their family had been active in the float building for many years.
A true community celebration for Riverside occurred this past weekend, steeped in tradition but most noticeable by the presence of the float from Audubon Road which exhibited not only tradition but love of neighbor.