Riverton’s old-fashioned July 4

A house on Main Street, Riverton that in the past won the Best Decorated House contest twice is seen here along with owners Beth Lippincott (holding her granddaughter Catherine) and Nick Mortgu (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)
A house on Main Street, Riverton that in the past won the Best Decorated House contest twice is seen here along with owners Beth Lippincott (holding her granddaughter Catherine) and Nick Mortgu (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 04, 2011

For 40 years, Nick Mortgu has hosted a 4th of July porch party that sparkles when the Riverton Parade marches past his 1860 Antebellum-style home.

"The poor people who buy this house next" are in for a surprise, Mortgu said, explaining how people just show up at his Main Street home when the holiday arrives, even the one year that he and his wife, Beth Lippincott, were out of town.

Their home, displaying flags, bunting, and shiny patriotic bows, was one of 11 vying for a Best Decorated House "Spiff up your Stripes" award that the tiny Burlington County borough has given out each of the last three years.

"It's more work than Christmas, but it's wonderful," Lippincott said.

Twice before, Lippincott said, they won the $100 award, but that's not why they get into the spirit. "Oh gosh, it's a whole day of craziness, with the parade, a raft race, a bike race and a covered dish dinner at my aunt's house down by the Yacht Club" on the Delaware River, she said.

About 100 to 150 relatives and friends were expected to visit, some from as far away as Alabama.

On Monday, a home on Linden Avenue captured first prize for displaying a decorated bicycle-built-for-two on their lawn with lots of flags.

Thousands lined Main Street Monday to a watch the 114th annual parade. Featured were a Mummer's band, bagpipes, military bands, floats, antique cars, bicyclists and fire engines.

"It's very festive and crowded and exciting," said Kristina Leeds, a Vineland resident who was visiting relatives and sitting on a folding chair next to the curb. "I love the way people decorate the houses here, the fact that they're so into it and it's not boring to look around."

Katelyn, her six-year-old daughter, had her eyes on something else: the candy flung by people riding on the floats and the sweets handed out by costumed characters. "Look," she said, pointing to a paper bag full of treats. "I got gum and licorice and all."

Mike Stinsman, a Santa in a flowered shirt and shorts, made his first appearance at the historic Children's Parade, and kids noticed. He walked along the street giving out peppermints as children squealed and shouted to him to cross the street.

"Why are you here?" one curious girl asked. "I'm on vacation," the Riverton man said with a chuckle and tugged on his natural white beard. Benita Birkenbach, a retired nurse who used to work in Riverton's Baptist Home, has been coming to the parade 50 years. "I used to bring my children but when they grew up I kept coming because nothing is better than this," the 77-year-old Delran woman said.

Her companion, Kay Woods, 86, of Riverside, agreed. "We love the parade," she said. But she noticed that nowadays people don't stand up or remove their hats when the first flag passes by. "It disturbs me," she said, "especially since we are at war."

Still, Woods said the spectacle could not be beat. "The music is really great," she said, nodding her head to the rhythm as a Mummers band struck up a lively tune in front of her.


Contact staff writer Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or jhefler@phillynews.com

 

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