RANDOLPH, NJ- Hundreds gathered to celebrate the final day of Randolph’s Freedom Festival on Saturday July 2. The Festival runs prior to the Fourth of July and showcases its core principles. The three day-long celebration culminates with a night of fireworks.
The final day began with a parade which had many veterans and local youth groups as its focal point. After this, amusement rides and food could be found at County College of Morris’ parking grounds. This full slate of events was made possible with the cooperation between Randolph Township and the Randolph Chapter of the Kiwanis International Organization.
The ticket booth was the busiest destination of the evening. Within this small space Arlene Price gave tickets to customers and handed out change. Arlene is also one of the core members who helped construct this year’s parade. She had been part of town council for five years and now is a member of the Kiwanis Club.
As the folks of Randolph, both young and old inquire for tickets, her husband Geoff comes to temporarily relieve her of her duties. Geoff Price is the parade director. The celebration was notable for sending off Sheriff Ed Rochford as the parade’s Grand Marshal. Rochford is retiring after a 51 year career.
Geoff has been the director for 11 years. The best part of running the parade is interacting with veterans. “I love reaching out to active and retired military and securing their presence in our Freedom Parade,” he said.
Fundraising for such a large endeavor is daunting but Geoff is grateful for the Patriot Donors. They include businesses from Randolph and Roxbury, but also include Randolph Residents.
He still hopes to continue to find more participants for future parades citing the fact that there were a dozen new entries this year. “We always try to attract new entries,” he said. “We’re always trying to attract youth.
Saturday afternoon into evening, the carnival at CCM became the main stage. According to Parks and Recreation Director Russ Newman, there are roughly over 5,000 visitors to see fireworks. As the show came closer, residents crowded the carnival area and found places to settle around the hills of CCM. To account for the number of people, organizing and planning took some time.
Setting up for the Freedom Festival is yearlong process that begins the following August. The Festival itself is set up at the beginning of the week.
Bonnie Hodge is the Freedom Festival’s Coordinator. From years past, the focus has been more on incorporating youth as well as making the event more family-oriented. “It’s an honor to be able to provide safe, family friendly event for our townspeople and watching the children have a good time,” she said.
While the town provides the necessities such as fireworks, and security, Kiwanis provides the entertainment and contracts the rides. “If we didn’t have Randolph Township’s support, this event would not go off,” Hodge said.
One area that continues to be fine-tuned is the food. New dishes like empanadas and cheesecake-on-a-stick were sold long with staples such as hot dogs and burgers. “Food’s great,” said carnival-goer Virginia Daniele.
The Freedom Festival is termed a fun-raiser because of its focus on bringing residents together and the fact that the celebration doesn’t create a profit.
As afternoon transitioned into dusk, the Freedom Fair seemed to go off without a hitch. “It seems like everyone’s having fun,” said Officer Travis Somerville.
The Freedom Festival ties into the Fourth of July, engendering notions of freedom. “Fourth of July is all about our freedom, our ability to express our ideas, and freedom is very fragile,” said Geoff. “It comes at a cost, and the cost of freedom is the sacrifice of our military, and that’s why it’s so important to honor them in the parade.”