My hometown, (where I still reside), is known for its, “Norman Rockwell” like image. This is especially noticeable on The 4th of July. Maplewood, is not a very small town, nor is it huge, (but I guess everything is relative.) We have a population of about 20,000 people. Maplewood began as several small farms that surrounded a small village. That village, that ran through the heart of the town, is still thriving.
A 4th of July 5k has been held in town for many years. This morning began with many people running in it – some for their first time, (hooray for my good friend Tammy)! That was followed with opening ceremonies in Ricalton Square, as families and merchants lined up along the side of the road running through the village as they watched Maplewood’s youngest parade through the streets in the “Push, Pedal and Pull Parade”. Children rode bikes, scooter and trikes. Others were pulled and pushed along in wagons and strollers down the avenue, under the railroad trestle and back up to Memorial Park where the children all gathered for the 4th of July Foot Races. Children competed in dashes, relay races and water balloon tosses all for the reward of winning blue, red and white ribbons.
Their families, cheered on their children as they stood along the sidelines, with their dogs on leashes and babies in arms. The great thing about our town, is that you know almost everyone, and if you don’t know them, you usually at least recognize them! All generations of people show up for some of the festivities. 111 years ago, the 4th of July festivities began in Maplewood. Ice cream eating contests, baking contests, a pet show and food from local vendors, are all out in the park in front of town hall to celebrate the birthday of our country. Throughout the years, things have been added and taken away, but the traditions remain deeply rooted. It has been run by several different organizations in town. When my parents were “in charge” when I was a kid, it was The Jaycees, I am sure there were organizations before that as well. Today, the YMCA ran the kids’ races, and yet, even with different groups in charge, it has held fast to so many things. As a kid, I competed in the races, the ice cream eating contests, the baking contests, year after year along with my siblings and friends.
As the afternoon goes on, there is an adult softball game, live music and even a circus. Early in the evening, live music begins playing in the park as people begin arriving and laying out blankets and picnics in preparation for the fireworks.
How better to celebrate our country and our community than by feeling patriotic and proud of our community. It is one of my favorite days to spend in town.
edited to add….check out #7 http://www.policymic.com/articles/52443/4th-of-july-events-9-small-towns-that-really-know-how-to-celebrate