Celebrating Independence Day or Fourth of July or whatever you like to call it, takes many different forms, but none seems to bring out the real sense of Americana than small communities. Some communities due to the economy have had to forego any celebration, while others have chosen to go a more commercial route and others, well let’s look at Riverside.

The parade in Riverside was originally a rather small happening, with a parade beginning in the center of town and winding its way to the Big Pall Park. Once there, village officials and occasionally some other elected officials made a few speeches.

In all fairness to the speakers, whom I am sure spoke eloquently and from the heart, few people heard them due mostly to an inadequate speaker system, but those were different times.

There were a few refreshment booths, games, contests for the kiddies and the water fight for everybody. The day ended with a Little League game at Indian Gardens. Some years included a street dance at the train station, and when dusk hit, people sought a good spot to watch fireworks from neighboring communities.

A lot has changed and in some ways for the better. The parade route in Riverside reversed, and there are more booths and local participation. There’s also a big celebration on July 3, which has become as busy an evening as there is here in our village.

The biggest change occurred in 2009, with the possibility of Riverside having to cancel the annual July 4 celebration due to lack of funds.

Enter the Friends of the Fourth, a small group that formed to save the celebration in Riverside. The group (of which I am a member) raised funds and helped in the planning. In conjunction with the Riverside Recreation Department, the event has grown to become the place to be for the holiday, with live bands, local businesses, food and fun on July 3 with a parade on The Fourth that gets bigger and better every year.

One person who will be enjoying the celebration a little more than usual this year is Marine Lance Cpl. Bret Breska of Riverside who has just returned from a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Breska’s duties in Afghanistan included driving an armored vehicle while attached to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. He was awarded a Combat Action Medal during his time there.

He will return to Camp Pendleton in California until he receives his next assignment. Meanwhile, he is enjoying being home and visiting with family and friends, and we are all glad he’s back to celebrate Riverside’s July 4.