RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Kiwanis Clubs’ Fourth of July “Freedom Festival” Parade Marched through town on a picture perfect day this past Saturday, July 2.
“I’m very grateful to the Kiwanis Club of Randolph Township for again partnering with us in presenting this year’s Freedom Festival,” said Mayor Roman Hirniak. “Significantly, they led the charge in naming Sheriff Ed Rochford as the Grand Marshal of today’s Freedom Parade, acknowledging and honoring his 24 years as Morris County’s chief law enforcement officer.”
Sheriff Rochford, who plans to retire at the end of this calendar year, was all smiles and expressed gratitude for being asked to lead the parade, stating, “I should thank you, this is a great honor for me to be here today,” after a parade organizer thanked him for posing for a photo.
The County Crier, William Joseph, led the procession, walking the route ahead of the parade with his wife, while ringing his bell and urging parade watchers to yell “Freedom”.
Joseph was followed by a contingent of Randolph VFW Post 7333 members, riding in a variety of military vehicles and carrying the official parade colors and flags.
WWII Tin Can Soldiers came right behind the VFW, just before the Kiwanis club carrying a huge American flag and the township council mebers, including Mayor Hirniak, Deputy Mayor Christine Carey, and Morris County Freeholders all riding in the back of convertables.
“Today Randolph continued its tradition of saluting our active military and veterans,” said Hirniak. “Their sacrifices are central to any celebration of our nation’s continued independence and leadership on the world stage.”
Brenna Weick was crowned Miss New Jersey just two weeks ago. One of her first official events was riding in the back of a convertible as part of the Randolph parade.
“My favorite things to do are community outreach events where I can speak with people from all over NJ,” said Weick. Attending events such as this is not only fun for me, but something I really cherish, especially for the Fourth of July. The Miss America organization is a patriotic group, so we all love being at events that promote what it means to be an American.”
Many local youth groups were also represented, including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and various martial arts groups.
“We were thrilled with how many youth members of our community marched in the parade, over 250 in total,” said parade director Geoff Price. “We were also proud of the presence we had of both active and retired military members. We got a lot of positive comments about that, which after all, the parade march is about freedom.”
Also performing for the second year in a row was up and coming local pop singer / songwriter Kristina Lachaga, whose mission is to send positive messages to teens.
“I loved performing in the Randolph Freedom Parade again, seeing everyone in the community come together to celebrate,” said Lachaga.
When asked about her music focus, Lachaga said, “I've visited over 150 schools across the country spreading my 'Sticks & Stones' Anti-Bullying message. It's so important for me to use my voice to spread positive change, and to help give teens and tweens the confidence to be themselves.”
Artworks Studios, the Randolph YMCA, and a host of other groups including clowns, bands and a ten foot tall Uncle Sam on stilts were some other highlights of the parade. Randolph’s volunteer Firemen and EMS, and their fleet of vehicles wrapped up the parade along with some township public works vehicles.