Residents and visitors packed the parkways in Riverside to enjoy the Independence Day parade on July 3. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

Hopefully, the last firecracker has been blown off and we can quietly begin a recap of July 4. A celebration that was long coming, people were able to gather and celebrate freedom in more than one way.

Beginning in Riverside, we began the party on the night of July 2 with the Concert in the Park with plans done in a hurry. But, the music from the train station had them dancing in the streets. 

Up early for the parade on July 3, I met up with my cohort Jacob Palka as we readied to do the play by play of the parade for Riverside TV. We saw the politicians — even Chuy Garcia was there (tried to get his attention to find out where our mail is) — local and otherwise proudly marching down Longcommon. The Masons, St. Mary and Mater Christi churches under the new banner of St. Paul VI Parish, Shriners on those cute flying carpets, Chicago Bears drum line and so many others. 

Kudos to Dr. Hector Freytas, principal at Riverside-Brookfield High School, who marched with his family ahead of the marching band, led by James Baum, the band director in his RB blue suit. 

Audubon Road did it again with their float — an American eagle designed by Jon Jansky. I also waved to Peter Boutsikakis, Riverside’s Person of the Year. Since there was no party after the Riverside parade, we drove over to Brookfield to see their parade and got “primo” parking at Eight Corners. Dr. Freytas and family marched there also. Lots of residents in the parade good to see. 

North Riverside celebrated on The Fourth, and while we skipped that parade we did see the firecrackers the evening from the Riverside Golf Club. Had another good parking space. Give it up to the golf club and North Riverside — you lit up the skies and had the crowds oohing and aahing.

I missed having my bratwurst in Guthrie Park but Husband Joe “burned” them at home, which along with my Friends of the Fourth beer (sold at Riverside Foods) made me a happy camper.

The local celebrations were slightly different this year, but everyone said it was the best ever and it was. Why? Because we were able to be together and celebrate.

Putting differences aside, we all know what it means after a year of not knowing what to expect and what we can do together, and isn’t it great when we do. So keep waving the flag and celebrating us, but no more fireworks, please.