MONTCLAIR, NJ – Hurricane Arthur, a category 1 Hurricane, hit the east coast on Wednesday threatening the 4th of July festivities statewide. Although New Jersey was spared the fury of the Hurricane, it left behind hail, flooding, and thunderstorms that affected most New Jersey communities’ holiday plans except for Montclair.
Despite the news reports, by Friday, most of the rain had subsided and the Montclair 4th of July parade went on rain or shine. It turns out that the weather was on the Township of Montclair’s side with the day being overcast with no sign of rain until the afternoon.
Hundreds of spectators lined the streets along the 1.6 mile long parade route to get a good glimpse of the parade. This year marked the Township of Montclair’s 64th annual Independence Day celebration. There was a line up of entertaining performances and floats. Township officials announced new additions to the parade this year as Philadelphia Mummers' Fralinger String Band, Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, Wayne Raiders Drum & Bugle Corps and St. Columquille's pipe and drum band.
Among the parade participants was Immaculate Conception High School (ICHS). Supporters marched alongside Assemblyman Tom Giblin who was demonstrating his his support of the school. Assemblyman Giblin has been a long time supporter and board member of ICHS.
ICHS has recenlty come under threat of being closed by the Archdiocese of Newark if they do not raise $500,000 and increase enrollment by the July 15th deadline. School officals marching with ICHS were passing out fliers to the crowd asking them to help keep ICHS open and directing them to the www.gofundme.com website. The school has raised $286,000 thus far.
Towards the end of the parade, there were a few sprinkles that seemed to come and go. Sprinkles didn’t seem to bother parade-goers as they lined the streets with lawn chairs and blankets to see the sights.
At the end of the parade route, residents gathered for a town picnic at Edgemont Park filled with food, a variety of vendors and live music.
Carole Gill rode her bike to the parade area ending at Edgemont Memorial Park to hear the band play. Gill said, “I didn’t notice the rain, I came to hear the band. We saw them a few weeks ago and we came to see the band again.”
Alex Picou brought his daughters to the picnic where they were playing chess while standing. Picou said, “They have been learning to play chess and will be taking chess lessons this summer.”
Steve Moctezuma from Zuma chess had a chess station set up in the park and invited residents to play on his chess boards. He has partnered with Steve Crooks of Felis Fitness to launch a new concept of putting physical fitness and chess together. Moctezuma said, “I believe in physical fitness and I wanted to be creative and combine exercise and chess. When the opponent captures your piece, they have to do pushups or sit ups.” “ I also host chess fitness parties,” he continued.
Steve Crooks from Felis Fitness said, “I want to be outdoors and teach others how to exercise in public while doing every day things.” “Last year, I worked with first responders to raise 400 cans of food for United Way and before we donated the food, we had to exercise while carrying the cans.”
Food vendors, Kepa’s Hawaiian Isle Barbecue and Applegate Farms ice cream were busy with long lines of people wanting to taste their delectables. The Montclair Art Museum also had a station set up with activities for children.
The rain held back just in time for the parade to end and for residents to join some picnic festivities. At around 2pm, it began to pour and many of the parade-goers dispersed.
As news of many other communities cancelling the fireworks display came, residents wondered whether the Montclair fireworks would also be canceled. Some residents thought all was lost for the fireworks display at Yogi Berra Stadium on the campus of Montclair State University until the sun came out.
When the rain subsided around 6pm and the sun shone through the clouds, hundreds of residents filled the stands at the Yogi Berra stadium for the Montclair fireworks display. The gates opened at 7pm and residents poured in joining the opening activities such as pie-eating contests, line dancing, while t-shirts and prizes were thrown to the crowd.
The excitement grew until the fireworks grand finale at 9pm. The fireworks display was the 4th annual display at Yogi Berra stadium.