RANDOLPH, NJ- Major General Michael R. Smith, USAR, Ret., who has lived in Randolph Township for over 30 years and served as Deputy Chief of Army Reserve until he retired on June 30, led the Randolph Kiwanis Freedom Parade as Grand Marshal on Saturday July 1. ( PHOTO SLIDESHOW at end of story)

“We chose Major General Smith to be Grand Marshal because of his exceptional record of service to our nation for nearly 40 years,” said Parade Director Geoff Price.

Smith led the parade, one of the largest in New Jersey, from the Mount Fern Methodist Church down Quaker Church Road, right on to Center Grove Road, and across Route 10 into the lower parking lot of CCM.

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“I am truly humbled and honored to be here today, and when I think about Independence Day weekend, it is a time to reflect on what this means to our nation,” said Smith.  “Our roots as a nation came from small towns (like Randolph), who came together to express thoughts about liberty, democracy and freedom, and wrote a constitution around it.  This was hard work 241 years ago, and we celebrate that today.”

Mayor Christine Carey, along with Randolph Township Council members Jim Loveys, Mike Guadagno, Al Napoliello, and Lance Tkacs, all joined the festivities, tossing candy to kids along the route. 

Kaitlyn Schoeffel of Egg Harbor Township, who was recently crowned Miss New Jersey, rode in the back of a convertible as part of the parade.  The Randolph Freedom Festival parade is the first parade for the 2017 pageant winner. 

My personal platform is called “Operation Empowerment”, which will provide equal opportunity for disadvantaged and disabled kids to be exposed to the Arts,” said Schoeffel.  “The Arts have always been part of my life as my mom was a professional dancer, currently runs a dance studio, and I have been dancing since I was five years old.  I want to make sure all kids are able to have that same opportunity.”

Randolph’s own singer/songwriter Brendan Fletcher, who competed on the 11th season of NBC’s hit show “The Voice”, singing his way to the semi-finals, participated in the parade.  Fletcher was raised in Randolph, graduated from Randolph High School in 2008 and currently is living in Brooklyn, NY.

The Freedom Parade also featured other bands, military units, first responders, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other community groups, as well as historical reenactments and fun attractions.

The Randolph Kiwanis Freedom Parade was sponsored and organized by the all-volunteer, not-for-profit Randolph Kiwanis Club in partnership with Randolph Township.