Written by Marilou Giammona Friday, 02 July 2010 00:00
For many, the idea of small-town America exists purely in Norman Rockwell paintings and reruns of The Andy Griffith Show. But for residents of Stewart Manor, the wholesomeness and patriotism associated with that notion is alive and well—especially as the Fourth of July draws near.
Plans are well under way for the Stewart Manor Fire Department’s annual Fourth of July parade. The department plans for the event all year long, but the planning starts to heat up toward the end of April. Since its inception in 1998, the parade has taken on a life of its own. The number of surrounding fire departments that participate has grown to nearly 20. In addition to the numerous fire departments—which boast multiple fire and rescue vehicles, as well as eye-catching floats, along the route—the parade includes local elected officials and owners of antique cars, who show off their classics as they celebrate our nation’s birth.
Let’s not forget the spectators. Families line the parade route in droves. Babies in strollers, toddlers on their parents’ shoulders, seniors in lawn chairs, and everyone in between wait excitedly for the parade to pass by. As fire horns blow and music abounds, spectators and participants alike brace themselves for the opening salvo, which comes in the form of water balloons, super soakers, garden hoses and buckets of water.
Amidst the water war, the reason for the parade is evident everywhere. Spectators adorn themselves with red, white and blue, while the vehicles that roll by are draped with the American flag. Stewart Manor is “trying to keep small-town America [and local celebrations of our country’s birth] in vogue,” said Christopher M. Dowd, newly elected chief of the Stewart Manor Fire Department.
Chief Dowd takes over the helm from Daniel O’Keefe, who reigned as chief from 2004 to 2006 and again from 2008 until earlier this year. Dowd, a SMFD veteran who has been with the department since 1995, was installed as chief on April 20.
Dowd attributes the parade’s success year after year to the local police departments that assist in traffic control and ensure the safety of participants and spectators. Adding to the parade’s flavor are “the departments that spend countless hours in creating some elaborate floats for our parade,” Dowd added.
Following the parade, the fire department will host a barbecue in the municipal parking lot on the corner of Covert and Chester Avenues. As in years past, a portion of Chester Road will remain closed off to traffic for the festivities, which include music, a bouncy ride, a dunk tank, cotton candy and face painting. Pile on the hamburgers and hot dogs, and small-town America truly comes to life.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. on Stewart Avenue at Fernwood Terrace. Proceed west to Covert Avenue and turn left, heading south. Proceed to Salisbury Avenue. Proceed east on Salisbury to Dover Parkway and turn right. Proceed south on Dover to Cambridge Avenue, where the route turns right and proceeds to Tulip Avenue. The parade turns right onto Tulip and heads to Covert Avenue, where it turns right and ends just past the Stewart Manor Fire Department.