SPARTA, NJ - Sparta Township became the site for a regional celebration Thursday, as parade participants, and spectators alike, gathered for the township's annual parade, water ski show, and fireworks display.
Attendees donned their patriotic finery, sporting their favorite American Flag t-shirts, wearing color coordinated accessories, and waved American Flags. Even some of the four-legged friends in the parade were decked out. They benefitted too since during the ceremonial candy tossing from the various floats, some of those marching also doled out canine treats.
"It's a great parade, it reminds me of my youth as a kid in Bergen County," said Ray Cordts, Lakeland Bank's vice-president of business development, who was the emcee for the festivities.
Bob Nicholson, Chairman of the Board for both Eastern Propane and Lakeland Bank also attended the parade, and said he was looking forward to looking out for the zamboni from Skylands Ice World in Stockholm. The zamboni has been powered with propane, and was in Eastern Propane colors.
"I think it's nice of them to come [to the parade] with that," he said.
Prior to the parade, Courtney Berado of Wallkill Valley Regional High School sang the National Anthem.
"Thanks everyone for coming to the parade, it's been a tradition for Sparta Township, and we look forward to continuing it," said Anthony Alfonso of Sparta Elks Lodge #2356.
The Elks now run the parade annually, a tradition they have now enjoyed for about five years. They kicked off the festivities with their float leading the fun. Mary Adams who led the National Anthem in years past, sang from the Elks float.
The Dermody Family marched in the parade, with William Dermody IV appointed as the parade grand marshal.
Carl Manke received a warm welcome from spectators as a member of the military who just returned home.
The members of the Sparta Council, including mayor Gil Gibbs, and township manager David Troast, marched, while deputy mayor Molly Whilesmith and councilwoman Christine Quinn, waved from a car.
The Sparta Senior Citizens participated, by marching and riding.
Jacqueline Foley, the reigning Miss Sparta, regally greeted the crowd as she was driven through.
Batman and Wonder Woman also marched with the rest, as they were flanked from behind by the Batmobile.
The Sparta High School Marching Band kept the parade in rhythm while they stepped along in formation.
The Sussex Elks, and Sussex Wantage Cub Scout Pack 97, as well as the New Jersey State Elks Association, were some friends of the parade, who joined in with the fun of the day.
The Sparta VFW Post 2748 followed, and American Legion Post 491, with Wm. H. Wilson doing some of the driving in the parade.
The Lake Mohawk Ski Hawks, which had a show at 11 a.m., marched before their performance.
The Vietnam Veterans American Chapter 1102, received thunderous applauds; John Harrigan was especially recognized by Cordts for spearheading the Veterans Cemetery project.
The parade continued with the Sparta Volunteer Ambulance Squad, and then the Sparta Fire Department. As the department always does, the row of fire trucks that followed wildly blared their sirens.
"Behind them we have the Ogdensburg Fire Department," Cordts said, and then hinted,"come on Ogdensburg, let's make some noise."
Ogdensburg replied with their own siren answer.
Fredon Fire Department was the next in line of the departments.
Clear Channel 102.3 and 103.7 joined in the ride, with two cars from the respective stations, with Boracio and Gary Cee behind the wheels of each.
"Thanks to Clear Channel for supporting us," Cordts said.
The Democratic Party of Sussex County, the Knights of Columbus, the Sparta Democrats, and a bevy of classic cars followed.
Andover Township Fire Department was next.
"Make some noise, make some noise," Cordts encouraged, "come on, step on that siren."
Andover Township stepped on their siren.
The Sparta Kiwanis and OSCAR also marched. The Parsippany Troy Hills Elks Lodge 2078 attended with their extravagant float. The Sparta Farmers Market had a presence, with participants marching in an array of vegetable costumes. The Lake Mohawk Pool Swim Team, Lake Mohawk Yacht Club, Lakeland EMS, and Sparta Books were next, with Sparta Books in their "Where's Waldo?" theme. The answer to that question was Waldo was found, out in full force at the parade. Sparta Cub Scout Packs 82 and 295 were there. Girls on the Run walked their way through.
Sparta Little League Football, Sparta Super Cheers, Sparta Historical Society, New Jersey Search and Rescue, Lake Hopatcong and Jefferson Fire Departments, Hackettstown Elks, NJ Antique Tractors, and New Jersey Search and Rescue, finished up the parade.
Following the parade, spectators could grab a free hot dog, courtesy of the Sparta Fire Department, and listen to musical entertainment. And the Ski Hawks dazzled audiences with their choreographed waterski acrobatics.
The festivities concluded with a spectacular fireworks display, which could be viewed from various points in town, coordinated by the Lake Mohawk Country Club.
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