Patriotism, Water Warfare Abound at Stewart Manor Fourth of July Parade

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S.M.F.D.’s 13th Annual Parade Sports Stars, Stripes and Super Soakers

Stewart Manor’s annual Fourth of July parade, hosted by the Stewart Manor Fire Department (S.M.F.D.), proved once again to be the highlight of the holiday weekend for residents and guests. Unlike the village’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, which respectfully focuses on remembrance as opposed to celebration, the Fourth of July parade and after-party takes on a much different feel – a wet one, in fact. Indeed, the parade has become known for its fun-spirited water wars.

This year’s parade, which marks the 13th consecutive year, boasted local elected officials, marching bands, antique vehicles, the Nassau County Fire Riders and 19 fire departments, including Bellerose Terrace, Bellerose Village, Elmont, Floral Park, Floral Park Centre, Franklin Square-Munson, Garden City, Garden City Park, Great Neck, Hempstead, Manhasset-Lakeville, Mineola, Mineola VAC, New Hyde Park, South Floral Park, Syosset, Uniondale, Valley Stream and West Hempstead.

Dozens of Nassau County Fire Riders – a motorcycle club started by the F.D.N.Y. “to unite firefighters, have a good time and promote safe motorcycling” – led the procession, which set off at 10:30 a.m. on Stewart Avenue at Fernwood Terrace, proceeded west to Covert Avenue, then wound through the residential streets of Stewart Manor before ending on Covert Avenue near the Stewart Manor Fire Department. The Street Band Preservation Society followed closely behind, entertaining spectators with upbeat music and a whimsical conductor.

Stewart Manor Mayor James J. Kelly, who is also a member of the S.M.F.D., marched with Trustees James Lynch and Gerard Tangredi, Chairman of the Nassau County Fire Commission Robert Cribbin, and Town of Hempstead Councilman Ed Ambrosino. Kelly expressed gratitude toward the S.M.F.D. for its ongoing efforts to host such a memorable event year after year. “I would like to thank Chiefs [Jeff] Hammond and [Tom] Skinner, along with the members of the department, for their tremendous efforts and hard work which resulted in another very enjoyable Independence Day celebration for our village,” Kelly said.

But what’s a parade without spectators? “I would also like to thank all those residents that participated by decorating their homes and attending the festivities afterwards.  The number of residents that participate each year has definitely increased, as has the emphasis on the patriotic spirit and meaning of the day,” Kelly said.

Indeed, spectators clad in red, white and blue lined the parade route, armed with heavy aqua artillery. Groups of children of all ages huddled around buckets filled with water balloons. They carried everything from spray bottles to Super Soaker water blasters to garden hoses. One boy on Dover Parkway even constructed a slingshot using bungee cords, baseball bats and a red wagon, from which he launched his water balloons. And while the mission of firefighters is to protect and serve, they showed no mercy on July 4. Garden City and Bellerose Village forsook their bunker gear for camouflage duds. Both departments flanked their vehicles with foot soldiers armed with their own water blasters.

Other notable floats – and equal forces to be reckoned with – included Mineola, New Hyde Park, Valley Stream and Manhasset-Lakeville. While Mineola took cover inside its two tiki huts, New Hyde Park sought refuge in a fort as its No. 3 engine blasted spectators. Valley Stream sported a large pirate ship. Manhasset-Lakeville launched its share of water balloons, but it also paid homage to the September 11 terrorist attacks, with a float depicting the Twin Towers joined by an American flag that hung between the towers.

Set against the soggy backdrop was an undeniable sense of patriotism. Stars and stripes were plentiful as were patriotic tunes, thanks to The Street Band Preservation Society, the Floral Park Fire Department marching band and “Piano man Pat.” Following the parade, the S.M.F.D. hosted a barbecue in the municipal parking lot on the corner of Covert and Chester Avenues.

“Planning for the parade is an ongoing process, as it is an annual event,” said S.M.F.D. Chief Hammond, but it is well worth the effort.

“It truly has become a village event that many of our residents have come to look forward to,” said Kelly.

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