THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY: Just as Australia Day is close to many Australians’ hearts, Independence Day on the Fourth of July is a huge day on the American calendar. It is a national holiday around the USA and marked by a wide array of patriotic displays.
If you have been living in a cave for all of your life, you may not know that this holiday marks the famous signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.This was the fateful day that America legally freed itself from its overbearing mother country, Great Britain, after fighting since 1763 to achieve independence.
Americans celebrate Independence Day in many ways but one of the most popular is the traditional Fourth of July parade.
What you will see
The principles of liberty and freedom are what people passionately celebrate on this date. It seems that at least for one day, even opposing factions in US society put aside their differences to participate in a unified event.
Independence Day Parades come in all shapes and sizes. Our local parade at Montclair is the more traditional version with a bit of modernity added in. it is a colourful, enthusiastic and noisy celebration that involves many parts of the local community. The marchers and floats included the township’s police, the fire brigade, ambulances, servicemen, charities, social welfare and religious groups, local businesses, scouts, sporting clubs and of course politicians from opposing parties. A wonderful addition that adds colour and flair are the numerous marching bands, singing groups, and community musical ensembles that also participate. As Montclair is the hometown for legendary Apollo astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, the parade included a separate float displaying an Apollo rocket that drew big applause.
The parade route stretched out for several miles, twisting around the major township streets, taking two hours from the beginning until end. As the floats and parade marchers moved thought the streets, they were roundly applauded and greeted with approving shouts, whistles and wildly waving American flags. Americans are an appreciative audience and very supportive of the local parade, if sheer numbers are anything to go by. Their passion for this national day can be seen in their dress and behaviour with patriotic symbols plastered everywhere the eye can see.
Why you should go:
- It’s good to join in and celebrate what is a hugely important day for all Americans
- Attending will help you understand the high regard that Americans place on core beliefs to do with freedom, liberty and individual rights.
- It is fun, colourful and big!
- It’s a great way to mingle with other community members and meet new people.
- Kids will love the free candy and other tokens that are thrown into the crowd as gifts by the parade floats and their participants
- It’s free
Where can you see a Fourth of July parade in NJ?
A number of towns hold their own parades every year. Some of these in Northern NJ include:
- Essex County: Montclair, Glen Rock and Maplewood
- Bergen County: Paramus, Ridgewood and River Edge
- Morris County: Florham Park, Chatham, Randolph and Montville
- Union County: Summit
There are a lot more though beyond this list so check online and local news beforehand. Some towns hold their parades on dates outside of July 4th, usually the weekend ahead, so check dates well before the holiday comes around. Also, some parades are bigger and more exciting than others- Montclair and Florham Park towns hold some of the better versions. Other towns have a parade for bicycles or babies. Whichever one you see, they will only be part of the total day’s celebration, as one of the biggest events on the annual calendar for Americans.
What you should take?
As July is a very humid and often hot month, it is a very good idea to take some cold water bottles. Even if you can find a good shady spot, the length of the parade will mean you are going to get thirsty pretty quickly. Wear a hat and take sunscreen as well.
Many people carry along fold up chairs to sit on as the ground and concrete gutter can get quite uncomfortable to perch on for two hours. While there are several entrepreneurial individuals flogging snacks, drinks and patriotic adornments like flags and balloons, you may need to come prepared with food for yourself and kids, unless you are going directly to one of the many barbeques and get-togethers that follow on from these parades.
Happy Independence Day to all expats and locals.