By ANTOINETTE MARTIN
For Montclair Local
The young — the very young — shall lead us at the Montclair July 4th parade.
The 67th annual parade kicks off Tuesday at 11 a.m. on Bloomfield Avenue, follows a 1.6-mile route south on Midland Avenue to Watchung Avenue and ends at Edgemont Park on Valley Road with the annual townwide Family Picnic.
The Montclair Community Pre-K, launching its 20th anniversary educating the town’s 3- to 5-year-olds, will be the parade grand marshal this year. The Pre-K plans to open the march with a phalanx of youngsters, plus T-shirt-clad alumni from each of its years of existence.
All families and alumni are invited to join in marching. Around 75 people have already committed, according to Pre-K spokesperson Zoe Behan. That includes one Travis Korbel, a graduate of the Pre-K’s first class in the spring of 1999, and a current employee of the MCPK extended-care program. The parade event launches a yearlong celebration of MCPK’s 20th anniversary this fall, and a new donor appeal.
Interested parties can email Zoe Behan at firstname.lastname@example.org with contact information including graduation year. Or simply show up on parade day. The parade group will gather at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and South Fullerton Avenue, in advance of the 11 a.m. parade step-off. Parade staging is on South Park Street, just south of Bloomfield Avenue.
“We will be celebrating the youth in this community,” said Paul Brubaker, chairman of the Montclair Celebrates parade committee. “And we will be celebrating an institution that has made early childhood education, regardless of ability to pay, a priority for almost two decades now.”
In her written announcement naming the Community Pre-K as marshal, Pat Brechka, township director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, spoke of the program as being “truly interwoven into the fabric of Montclair,” as is the Pre-K.
The parade itself is a senior institution with some hoary traditions — “Elvis” (Peter Giuffra, dressed as the Las Vegas-era Elvis) — has been the parade’s tail-end act since 1983.
Giuffra was recently honored with a proclamation from Mayor Robert Jackson and the Township Council.
The parade will retain its always-quirky, diverse and politically aware aspects this year, Brubaker promised.
“Our town’s Independence Day parade can’t really be staged without acknowledging the times we are living in right now,” he said. “The Montclair parade sends edification of all we are that is good and all that is right, and all that you are not going to find in Washington or Trenton.”
The parade’s time-honored theme is essentially this, as Brubaker put it: Montclairian with Montclairian, neighbor with neighbor.
PARADE HIGHLIGHT performances
•The Fralinger String Band of Philadelphia Mummers fame, featuring the 2017 theme “Spellbinding” with a sorcerer and his crystal ball at the heart of the performance.
•The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, founded in 1979.
•Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps, a 15-time Drum Corps International Championship Finalist based in Burlington.
•Caporales San Simon, a Bolivian dance group, and St. Columcille United Gaelic Band, both of which have performed for many years at the Montclair parade.
There will be a picnic after the parade at Edgemont Park, featuring a hot-dog-eating contest, music and children’s entertainment.
The annual Montclair July 4th Fireworks display will be held Tuesday at Yogi Berra Stadium on Montclair State University campus, at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 per person, free for kids ages 5 and under. Gates open at 6:30. No food, water or other drinks may be brought into the stadium.
Free parking will be available at the Carparc Diem deck, adjacent to Floyd Hall Arena and at the Red Hawk parking deck.
In the event of rain, the parade will go on, but the picnic in Edgemont Park and fireworks will be canceled. Rain cancellation/postponement announcements will be posted on the Montclair Township website and on TV34.
To check, call 973-509-4914. Alerts will be sent out to Montclair Events and Township Services (METS) alert system subscribers (mets.montclairnjusa.org/Subscribe.aspx).