MONTVILLE, NJ – A mid-afternoon cloudburst didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits on Saturday, June 29 for the third day of the township’s Fourth of July celebration activities, and most importantly, the fireworks went on as planned for a stunning 20 minutes.

The 4 p.m. cloudburst did present some wind gusts that brought down a light pole in the high school parking lot, but no one was hurt in the accident and police were able to lift the pole out of the way of incoming vehicle traffic. The storm also brought lightning that required clearing the celebration for about 45 minutes and halted “The Battle of the Bands’” fourth and final performing band.

Saturday’s activities started with the Olohan family band “O7” singing Bon Jovi and Springsteen hits plus favorites like “This Land is Your Land.”

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The recent tragedy in the township, however, was not far from the minds of attendees and organizers, as Fourth of July Committee President Dave Plishka asked for a moment of silence to remember Aaron Melzer, who tragically died in Lake Valhalla last week.

The Montville Township Police Explorers Post 805 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5481 brought in the colors. VFW Vice Post Commander Jeff Jones explained that this was the 101st Fourth of July celebration in Montville, as Historical Society President Kathy Fisher had told him that the township has had an organized celebration since 1918. There are six World War II vets who are members of the post, he said, and 340 Montville Township veterans laid to rest in the township’s cemeteries.

Plishka then said the Fourth of July Committee wished to honor the past and present Montville Township police chiefs for their “dedication and commitment to making the township better.” Retired Chief Carl DeBacco served 14 years, ret. Deputy Chief Ron Cain served two years, ret. Chief Edward Adams served three years, ret. Chief Richard Cook served 10 years, ret. Chief Rudy Appelmann served four years, and current Chief Andrew Caggiano were all honored at the ceremony.

Meanwhile, kids were having fun at “Kiddie Town,” a tent nearby where spin art, face painting, reptile presentations and a performance of the Red Bulls trick soccer team was happening. The kids were taught to balance a soccer ball on their shoulders and roll it down to their foot by a member of the soccer team who posed with the various reptiles as he did tricks.

The Battle of the Bands commenced with Bud Mazzo, Connor Larkin and Dylan Jacobus as the judges to bands like “Hal – Guitarist” of Denville, who played a Bob Dylan-like style; and “The Break Lights” of Parsippany, who said they were influenced by The Beatles, Radiohead and Neil Young. The bands “Learning” and “A Beautiful Somewhere” followed, with The Break Lights being named the winners.

In between bands, the popular pie and hot dog eating contests were held. In the hot dog eating contest, Anthony Santomarco of Bloomingdale ate a record-breaking – for the Montville contest – 14 hot dogs in the allotted 5 minutes. In other years, the contestants had taken the full five minutes to try to get five dogs down, but Santomarco wolfed his down in two minutes, went on to cram down nine more, and was still taking dogs off the tray after the whistle blew.

Plishka asked if he was going to stick around for dessert – in the form of entering the pie eating contest, and he replied, “Naw, I’m good,” with a smile – he was still chewing on a hot dog, and took one for the road.

Plishka made his way through his apple pie in record time to score the trophy for the pie eating contest.

Bands like “Take a Chance,” “Felony,” and Matty Enriquez performed that day as well.

The fireworks went on as planned, although parking was not allowed on the hill beyond the library as in other years. The 20-minute long show included hits from Neil Diamond (“We’re Coming to America”), The Jonas Brother (“Sucker”), and Springsteen (“Born in the USA”), but for traditionalists, of course, concluded with the 1812 Overture for the grand finale.

To view the entire show and feel as though you were there, click here: Fireworks  Also see our extensive photo gallery.

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