Another July 4 in Riverside is now in the history books, and this one can be considered different than any others in our village.
Celebrating our nation’s birthday is a long-held tradition in Riverside, and it has evolved over the years but is always true to its patriotic roots. My earliest recollections of July 4 (and to the best as I can remember, I have never missed one — won’t tell you just how many that is) started with a parade that began downtown and ended up at Big Ball Park.
The flag was prominent at the front of the parade, followed by fire trucks, police cars, dignitaries, the RB marching band, floats, groups of walkers and decorated bikes. When you arrived at the park, you’d see a small stage that had been set up.
The National Anthem was sung by Frances Creadon, accompanied by Marge Shimandle on a portable electric piano. Speeches by the village president and sometimes by visiting dignitaries, such as Paul Simon and Mike Howlett, followed.
Children were a big part of the day with the teenie-weenie costume parade contest, decorated bicycle contest and other games with prizes.
Trophies were awarded for floats that followed the theme of that year’s parade. The village organized the event with the help of the Jaycees and the Junior Woman’s Club. In the afternoon, around 3, was the water fight, with the Riverside Fire Department challenging another town’s department to try and get the little barrel on a wire to one side or the other, a watery takeoff on tug o’ war. Messy!
As time passed, the parade route changed, there were more participants and it ended downtown at Guthrie Park. A committee was formed to help the recreation department with the planning.
Then came the Friends of the Fourth, who saved the tradition in 2009 when the village decided it couldn’t afford it, and saved the parade in 2020 by bringing it to the people. Small as this year’s parade was, the spirit of the day was large.
Our first responders gave of their time to drive through the village. They were greeted with enthusiasm and patriotism. Flags of all sizes were flown, homes and lawns decorated. It was great!
July 3 and 4, 2021 is in the planning stages with the Friends of the Fourth. This was a celebration for all Riversiders, and celebrate we did, just on a smaller scale. Riverside proved again what they can do. Happy birthday, America, from your friends in Riverside.