West Orange Celebrates Our Nation's Independence

Emily Season of New York City smiles as she creates a balloon sculpture for a child. Ms. Season was one of many entertainers at the West Orange Independence Day Celebration.
Spectacular fireworks light up the sky over West Orange High School at the West Orange Independence Day Celebration.

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The baseball field behind West Orange High School was the site of a festive Independence Day celebration on July 4 that offered something for everyone.  Among the activities included were pony rides, an inflatable slide, and bean bag games.

The event, organized by the West Orange Recreation Department, also featured the 77th Annual "Lefty" Boland Fun Meet, named for William "Lefty" Boland, the longtime Recreation Department director whose career spanned over 35 years. Eighteen different foot races of different lengths and age groups -  nine for girls, nine for boys - were held, along with girls' and boys' sack races and a water balloon toss.  William Boland, Jr., son of the late recreation department director, helped call each race.  Similar races and contests were also held for adults.

The races included some humorous moments, such as the bottoms of sacks turning out to have no bottoms and allowing the wearers' feet to break through and touch the ground.  In the four-year-old girls' 40-yard dash, which was won by Ashley Joseph, the girls continued to run for several yards even after crossing the finish line.

Sign Up for E-News

Rebka Fried won the Degnan Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Girl in the 11-16 age range, while the equivalent Outstanding Boy award for boys ages 11 to 16, the Mayor's Trophy, went to Tim Van Cauwenberge.  Van Cauwenberge also won the 60-yard John McKenna Memorial Race for boys aged 11-12 and the kids' water balloon toss.

Mayor Robert Parisi said that the Independence Day celebration was a nice way to wrap up the holiday weekend, but admitted that there was a down side to Independence Day falling on a Monday, because so many West Orange residents who had gone away for the three-day weekend were returning home late.  "Many of them do get back in time for the fireworks," he said.

Linda D'Amato, a program coordinator for the Recreation Department, was still satisfied with the turnout.

"A lot of people went away," she admitted.  "But we changed the time of the start, we made it at six o'clock, and that helped a lot."

Children who were less interested in athletics had numerous entertainment options on the field.  There were face painters, a juggler, and three balloon sculptors who could make anything from swords and flowers to monkeys and Ariel from The Little Mermaid.  The balloon sculptors were extremely popular, as evidenced by the long lines of eager children they generated.

Emily Season, a New York City actress and children's entertainer who was one of the balloon sculptors, thoroughly enjoyed herself as she twisted balloons in magical shapes while wearing a doll-sized hat on her head. 

"Everyone's been having a good time," she said.  "Everything has been fabulous and fun."

The main attraction, the pop-rock band Mushmouth, got the crowd going with spirited versions of seventies and eighties classic rock songs, with lead singer Bill Gallacher occasionally strutting and dancing for the audience.  The band timed the end of their cover of the Who's explosive "Won't Get  Fooled Again" with the start of the fireworks, which lit up the skies over West Orange with brilliant colors for over half an hour.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Local Children Invited to Register for Essex County Summer Camps

February 19, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Children of all ages are invited to participate in spring and summer camp opportunities at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Essex County Codey Arena and the Essex County Environmental Center.

The zoo has several weeklong camp adventures that will introduce children to the extraordinary world of animals, nature and science. Campers and their parents/guardians are ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

West Orange High School (Tarnoff Cafeteria), West Orange

44th Annual Orange West Orange UNICO Sports ...

Arts & Entertainment Education


Sun, February 25, 12:00 PM

AMC Essex Green, West Orange

The 2018 West Orange Classic Film Festival

Arts & Entertainment

Celebrate Your Health this Nutrition Month

February 21, 2018

Dear Editor,

This year, we learned that the number of Americans at risk for heart attack and stroke just got a lot higher.  An estimated 103 million adults have high blood pressure, according to new statistics from the American Heart Association, and about 39.7 percent of Americans have high cholesterol.  With March being National Nutrition Month, it’s a great time to ...

Free Cardiac and Concussion Screenings for Young Athletes

February 22, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes (MJM) at RWJBarnabas Health will provide free cardiac and concussion baseline screenings to young athletes on Saturday, March 3, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Mountain Recreation Complex, Codey Arena, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ.

When preliminary testing to identify serious cardiac ...

Shouts of Racial Slurs During "Black Panther" Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

Let the Games Begin

I am truly awed by the Olympics.  Watching these superb young athletes on TV inspires me to renew my membership to the gym and pursue my lifelong dream of taking home the gold.  


The problem is that in my deluded head, I can see actually see myself standing atop the podium.  I am wrapped in a puffy designer ski coat with a huge piece of bling slung around my neck ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...