Super Soakers, Superheroes, and Stars and Stripes Abound
For the 14th consecutive year, the Stewart Manor Fire Department’s (SMFD) Fourth of July parade made a big splash. On Wednesday, July 4, the serene, tree-lined streets of the village were transformed into a no-holds-barred water fight, as spectators – armed with Super Soakers, water balloons and garden hoses – and local fire departments – armed with their own hydro artillery – waged war on each other.
This year’s parade highlighted political dignitaries, marching bands, antique vehicles, the Nassau County Fire Riders and nearly 20 fire departments, including Bellerose Terrace, Bellerose Village, Elmont, Floral Park, Floral Park Centre, Franklin Square-Munson, Garden City, Garden City Park, Hempstead, Lynbrook, Mineola, New Hyde Park, Stewart Manor, Syosset, Uniondale, Valley Stream, West Hempstead and Williston Park.
The parade and barbecue that followed in the municipal parking lot on the corner of Chester and Covert Avenues is the culmination of year-long efforts put forth by Stewart Manor employees and volunteers. “[I] would like to thank the many village residents that attended the 14th annual Stewart Manor Fire Department July 4th parade and barbecue on Wednesday,” said SMFD Chief Tom Skinner. “[I] would also like to thank the many people that helped to make it another tremendous success, including the fire department members, our DPW employees and the beautification committee for their efforts to help make the parking lot look wonderful.”
With an escort from the Nassau County Police Department Third Precinct, the parade stepped 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. Dozens of Nassau County Fire Riders – a motorcycle club started by the FDNY “to unite firefighters, have a good time and promote safe motorcycling” – led the procession. The SMFD color guard followed closely behind, paving the way for Stewart Manor Mayor and SMFD member James Kelly, Trustee James Lynch, Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino, New York State Assemblyman Ed Ra, and Nassau County Judge David P. Sullivan.
A parade for all senses, this year’s event once again delighted spectators with patriotic tunes performed by The Street Band Preservation Society and the Floral Park Fire Department marching band. Spectators were also entertained with creative floats and real, live superheroes.
Indeed, Captain America stood proudly atop Uniondale’s Protection Co. 4 truck, while New Hyde Park Fire Department members took cover aboard a float that took the form of a fort with Captain America painted prominently across the back. Sure to not lose the true meaning of Independence Day, all vehicles were adorned with stars and stripes, and many saluted our military. Hempstead’s float sported a banner that read “We Support Our Troops,” Franklin-Square-Munson’s float boldly displayed “USA” and a hand-painted U.S. Flag, and West Hempstead touted the words, “The Few, The Proud.” The Garden City Park Juniors channeled the Navy, riding aboard the “U.S.S. – Juniors.”
The creativity among the various fire departments spanned many decades. Garden City and Uniondale showed off antique fire engines, Mineola cruised along the parade route aboard a 1950s-era “rock ‘n’ roll” float, and Valley Stream sported the Enterprise space shuttle. Opting for a more whimsical theme, Garden City’s float was a larger than life fire hydrant, which spouted water from either side to soak spectators.
That hydrant, however, and the dozens of fire hoses spewing water throughout the parade were hardly a match for the hundreds of spectators along the route. Children of all ages stood ready with their own water arsenals, waiting to launch their attack.
“As Chief Skinner has generally stated, [the parade and barbecue] involves an incredible amount of planning and hard work by many people,” said Stewart Manor resident and SMFD member Bob Barbieri. “For me, what makes it all worthwhile is seeing all those happy children’s faces lining the streets and threatening marchers with aqua fusillades—incredibly wonderful!”