For Parade Planners, Gaps Are A Concern

Posted: July 03, 1986

Every year about this time, Herman DeMarco and Peter Salerno worry about gaps.

Not the toothy kind, the generational brand or the 18-minute variety, but good old-fashioned parade gaps - lapses, sometimes a block long or more, that make even the most ardent patriots think the Fourth of July parade has concluded.

Then, all of a sudden, the muffled thumping of another high school band is heard around the corner or a sparkling fire engine appears out of nowhere. The flags start waving again, the youngsters are occupied, the festivities continue.

Until the next gap.

Today is the last day - for this year's parade, anyway - that DeMarco and Salerno will sit around Salerno's kitchen table wondering: How many this year?

''You never get rid of gaps," DeMarco said with a sigh. "How can you?"

DeMarco, 68, an Abington resident who is retired from the Cheltenham Township highway department, has been chairman of the Glenside Fourth of July parade for 20 years and has been involved with the Greater Glenside Patriotic Association, the parade's sponsor, for a half-century. His wife, Sophie, has been the association's secretary for 15 years.

Salerno, 73, a Glenside resident and a retired insurance agent, is president of the association, which comprises 13 community-service organizations. He also is well-known around town for his family's water ice stand, a fixture on Limekiln Pike near Willow Grove Avenue since 1948.

Tomorrow's festivities begin at 10 a.m. at the Harry Renninger Recreation Area, Waverly Road and Keswick Avenue, with a parade of decorated bicycles and baby strollers, field sports for children and refreshments.

At 5 p.m., the big parade will begin, following the same route it has for 82 years: east on Jenkintown Road to Easton Road, south on Easton to Waverly Road, east on Waverly to Keswick Avenue and north on Keswick to Renninger Field. There will be three parade divisions and motorcycles, fire engines, scouts, antique cars and even a Scottish pipe band.

And, of course, "Uncle Sam," who has been played by Robert A. Schultz, a retired optician, for the last 20 years. Although his original top hat, blue jacket and candy-striped pants still fit, the lanky Glenside resident said he had wanted to pass the job to someone else this year.

"My two grandchildren talked me out of it," said Schultz, 66. They plan to march with him tomorrow.

It is doubtful whether anyone would bother trying to talk DeMarco and Salerno - or "Herm and Pete," as they are called - out of anything connected to the Fourth of July. Patriotism, said Salerno, is "a compulsion" for him. Added DeMarco, "As long as I'm living, I'll be involved in the parade."

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