The Fourth of July is my favorite event in Riverside. I won’t admit to how many of the Independence Day celebrations I have attended, but suffice it to say it is over 50.
The reason I use the number 50 is because that is how many years the people of Audubon Road, (affectionately known as ARSS, the Audubon Road Social Society) have been participating in the parade with an always appropriate float.
Looking back at some of the original families, the Wilks and the Janskys, we see they are now on the second and third generations participating. I have been told the group would get together at the annual Steak Fry to discuss their plans, but since the Steak Fry is no more, they went to a Plan B.
In years past, the parades each had a theme – “Forever May She Wave,” for example – and groups used the theme to help guide decorating their floats. Years ago, there were more floats in the parade and groups competed for trophies awarded by a panel of judges –I remember judging floats two or three times — mainly for their representation of the theme.
Needless to say, Audubon Road garnered many of the trophies, which they would display in the window of one of the residents’ homes.
According to Jon Jansky, the ARSS group was formed by his father, Bill, and neighbor, Harry Wilk, after some discussion of the children participating in the Teeny Weeny parade. At first the neighbors walked or rode bikes, but eventually they began building floats. Jansky says it is an all-inclusive effort, with former residents returning to participate.
There was a time when Jon Jansky and Jack Wilk were youngsters on the floats; now they are driving the truck hauling the float. Joe and Nancy Dvorak rode on the float and it wasn’t long before their children Joey and Chrissy were waving from the float. Now a third generation of Dvoraks are seated on the float.
Audubon Road will be closed on July 4 as the residents, family members, former residents and guests celebrate with a block party, which this year will include a pig roast.
T-shirts commemorating 50 years of celebrations will be proudly worn to celebrate 50 years of working together in the spirit of community and friendship.
Perhaps when the Audubon Road float makes its way down Longcommon a shout out of “happy anniversary” would be appropriate.