A Fourth of July Parade
The family plans start around July 1. Friends and relatives are called, the menu is planned, gas grills are cleaned, and patriotic decorations of red, white, and blue appear everywhere. Flags are displayed and every last person will wear its tri-colors. Kamm's Corner will be the image of pride for our country.
The nucleus of these activities is the Fourth of July Parade. This will be the 46th parade of marching contingents of bands, the Police Color Guard, bagpipers, fire trucks, school and church groups. We even have Mayor Jackson and Chief of Police McGrath—who grew up on Flamingo—Shriners in full regalia, war veterans, clowns, dancers, antique cars, political candidates, and last but not least, the Boy Scouts that started the parade in 1968. The Ola Cub Scouts under the guidance of Cub Scout Master Bill Waters originated the parade with homemade “floats” of crepe-papered coaster wagons, marchers, and decorated bikes.
The Scouts ran the growing parade for the next 20 years until it became too large for them to maintain, logistically. The late Howard Schreibman, a well-known West Park jeweler, felt that for the parade to prosper and grow, he had to convince his fellow West Park Kiwanians to sponsor and manage it. For the last 26 years, we owe this marvelous event to that group.
It is responsible for the organization of about 100 groups that make up the parade. West Park Kiwanians allocate places for each contingent and keep the pace of the parade steady. Sometimes the first group, the Police Honor Guard arrives back at Kamm’s Plaza before the last group leaves. The managed chaos is a tribute to the patience and diligence of the men and women of the West Park Kiwanis. Thank you.
The parade is two miles long and is viewed by about 18,000 people. It steps off at 9:30 a.m. at Lorain and Rocky River Drive, but many residents are in their favorite viewing spot as early as 7:30 a.m. Their chairs and blankets are set up and coolers filled. They drive, walk, bike, push strollers, and pull wagons. They carry umbrellas, wear sunscreen, big hats and sunglasses—to protect the fair skin of the largely Irish population.
The parade turns at West Park Avenue to head west back to Kamm’s Corner. This street takes the 4th of July festivities to a new level. Most homes are decorated to the hilt, lawns are covered with ornaments, and flags are everywhere. It is a joy to be on this street with all the smiles, waves and welcomes. The Fourth of July in West Park is a day like no other.
God Bless America!
I will send in a story after I interview Cliff La Roche of the Kiawanis(sic) about the parade.
I'm meeting him Monday morning.
I hope you can use these pictures. Most were taken by Joe Outlaw at previous parades,
and he has given me permission to use them.
The picture from 1970 of the boy scouts was taken by Mike Cavanagh and was published
that year.I don't know where to reach him.
The group picture of St. Patrick's parishioners was taken by me and published in the Westlaker.
We were trying to rouse support to save the parish from closing.
It did close for two years and then re-opened last year.
Peggy Calvey Patton
Free lance writer from West Park