The last flicker of the fireworks has burned out, the last dollop of potato salad has been eaten and all has returned to relative quiet in the village of Riverside following an Independence Day weekend that continues to get better each year.
The celebration in the village is close to 100 years old — it hasn’t yet been determined when the first celebration occurred, though there’s some documentation of it going back to 1925. I tell myself to research this every year and comfort myself with the fact that I have a year to do the research. And then a year later …
Needless to say, many changes have occurred over the years, one being the rerouting of the parade. Formerly the parade assembled at Guthrie Park and proceeded down Longcommon Road to the Big Ball Park; now it is just the opposite. While some pictures are available from the early event, now with the ability of cable TV and local channel 6 we will be able to see the celebration as many times as we would like.
Interviews with longtime residents, Judy Jisa, whose family goes back many generations and Joan Damore Wert, a member of another family of more than one generation in Riverside, gave a look back to former celebrations.
The two talked about the early celebrations and how it was a much smaller event. Jim Anderson remembered how he would be in the decorated bike contest and clip playing cards or baseball cards to the spokes on the bikes wheels so they would make noise. I confessed to doing the same thing, but I always seemed to take my mother’s good playing cards.
Food vendors are now a big presence, when at the Big Ball Park there was nothing until a group featured snow cones and the much missed potato pancakes. Now, during the Concert in the Park on July 3 one has choices from our local eateries, while on The Fourth local groups sell a variety of food items. Gotta have a bratwurst and a lemonade!
By July 5 there were no signs a big party had happened in the park. And to think that just six years ago it was in danger of being discontinued if not for group known as the Friends of the Fourth (full disclosure, I’m part of that group) who believed in continuing the tradition of celebrating our country’s birthday.