The Continental Congress declared America’s independence from England on July 2, 1776 in a document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Two days later it was adopted and since then the celebrations have continued.
However, little known fact, John Adams believed the actual Independence Day should be July 2, and as an act of protest he declined to attend any invitations dated July 4. Poor man, I’m sure he missed some good times.
Riverside has done its fair share of celebrating the holiday, and while I haven’t found any documentation as to when it started here, there are pictures dating back to the early 1900s.
Pictures show early parades with a somber note as they honored veterans of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Unfortunately, many more wars and skirmishes have been added to the list.
Parades in our village formerly featured floats made by different groups within the town and a competition was held with trophies being awarded. Competition was fierce, but the Audubon Road Social Society prevailed more often than not and has the trophies to prove it. Now there are more walking groups than floats, but there’s still good representation by villagers.
The event continued until 2008 when due to lack of funds, the village board announced the annual celebration would cease. For some of us who enjoyed the tradition, this was not an option, and so the Friends of the Fourth was formed.
Who are the Friends of the Fourth? They are as follows; Joe Ballerine, Andy Daun, Danny Jisa, JoAnne Kosey, Rey Navarro and Ben Sells. In 2009, the group took it upon themselves to generate funds and do much of the “grunt” work, all of which could not have been accomplished without volunteers who willingly came forth to keep the parade moving.
The Riverside Recreation Department and the village board lent their support. What came about was a celebration on July 3 and 4 that rivals many local municipalities.
It is still the same core group working in cooperation with the Recreation Department, selling the T-shirts, sending out postcards requesting funds, getting parade participants and bands, coordinating things to help Riverside celebrate what has become a July 4 for and by the people of the village.
With generous responses from so many, one can only say that the Riverside Fourth of July celebration has become such a great event that even John Adams might have attended.