Organizers of the 40th annual Mohawk Valley Independence Day Celebration will take a much-needed break this week and then regroup next Monday.
“We’ll talk about what worked and what didn’t,” said Patty Clawson, who, along with husband Michael and longtime chairman Don Clark, co-chaired the three-day celebration.
One of the events that went well was the addition of karaoke to the fireworks preshow. “The kids really enjoyed it,” Clawson said.
In years past, organizers have used bands to provide musical entertainment, but it was logistically difficult.
This year, Peter Rhode, who also provides the sound for the parade, handled the music and the karaoke.
Clawson said the Civil War battle reenactments were very well attended and people seemed to enjoy the addition of gunfighters performing in the park.
The fireworks display also drew rave reviews. Clawson said that this year the fireworks were electronically fired, which made the displays more rapid.
“It was really amazing,” Leah West said of the fireworks display. She and her family spent the next morning serving up breakfast for 754 people at the annual Graeagle Volunteer Fire Department’s pancake breakfast.
While her husband, Dan, who is the former fire chief, and son Trey flipped pancakes, daughters Lindsay and Mallory served drinks to the thirsty diners.
After breakfast, residents and visitors sauntered down the street where the Day in the Park was already under way. Various nonprofit groups offered such activities as a bouncy house and rock climbing, to fun fare such as snow cones, cotton candy and hamburgers.
The parade got under way just after 1 p.m., with former radio announcer Bob Darling debuting as the new parade host. Darling took over for longtime parade announcer John Williamson.
“He gave me some good pointers,” Darling said of Williamson. Though he admitted to some first-parade jitters, Darling said that he couldn’t say no when Don Clark called and asked him to emcee.
Rows of people lined the parade route, though organizers said the crowds seemed a little thinner than in years past, which they attributed to the festivities occurring a few days before the actual holiday.
Fewer people meant less mess. “It’s the cleanest we have seen in quite awhile,” said committee member Wayne Pearson, who also works for Graeagle Land and Water, which provides the facilities, setup and cleanup for the events.
While there was less cleanup, there were more medical calls. There was reportedly a fight at the Knotty Pine Tavern, and thrown beverage bottles, resulting in lacerations to several people.
Clawson said that it’s unfortunate that those events took place and no doubt the committee will discuss the incidents during next week’s meeting.
Then the committee can enjoy a five-month break before planning for the 2013 celebration, which gets under way in January.
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