RANDOLPH, NJ - Mayor Jim Loveys, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, local veterans, businesses, the Randolph High School Marching Band and a Morris County war hero-turned-movie-celebrity, all were part of the many groups participating in the 2014 Randolph Kiwanis Freedom Parade on Saturday afternoon.
The parade began at noon at the intersection of Randolph Avenue and Dover Chester Road and ended up at the County College of Morris near the Freedom Festival attractions. The parade took place on a sunny day, as Randolph residents packed the sides of the streets the entire length of the route waving at those walking or riding.
The grand marshal of this year's parade was a man who was recently portrayed in the movie Monuments Men. Harry Ettlinger, an 88-year-old resident of Rockaway, is a U.S. Army Veteran, and one of only five surviving World War Two Monuments Men. He recently received the Congressional Gold Medal for his work during the war in helping to recover stolen art work back from the Nazis. The Kiwanis club unanimously selected him to be the grand marshal.
James Stewart, a long-time Randolph resident and 22-year U.S. Navy Veteran, has been watching the parade from the same spot on his front lawn on Center Grove Road for several decades. Stewart admires the patriotic spirit and sense of community in the air during the parade. “It’s like a big family get together,” he said.
Both Matthew Zhang and Raymond Connors walked in the parade as part of the Randolph High School band and enjoyed their experience. Zhang commented "I love the weather as opposed to last year’s parade when it was scorching hot."
“I feel like it’s the kind of experience you have to keep coming back for no matter what,” added Connors.
The Randolph Fire Department and Rescue Squad also walked in the parade in full uniform among several antique fire trucks and cars. The Rescue Squad was featuring its new EMS bikes that can access places like trails and community events such as the parade easily if an emergency occurred.
Randolph's Freedom Parade happens to be one of the largest 4th of July Parades in all of NJ. The Randolph Kiwanis Club, a non profit, all volunteer organization, sponsors and organizes the parade each year in partnership with Randolph Township.
The parade began at the Mount Fern Church, where Boy Scouts, Police, and Fire Fighters lined the streets to kick off the procession. Also marching in the parade were many veterans, including Randolph's VFW Memorial Post 733, and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 327.
Overall, the parade and Freedom Festival brought together the Randolph and Morris County Community in a patriotic sense of community that could be felt the entire length of the parade.
“It’s like everybody is part of the community and they can all come out and appreciate the parade,” said Stewart.