N.J. parades and festivals mark the Fourth

Audubon High School band members perform in the Fourth of July parade in Mount Ephraim.
Audubon High School band members perform in the Fourth of July parade in Mount Ephraim. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 06, 2013

As 10 a.m. neared and Magnolia's Fourth of July celebration prepared to commence, the skies threatened to rain on the borough's parade.

But for at least one day, the region survived without a storm, and as the sun began to peer through the clouds Thursday morning, South Jersey residents hit the streets to celebrate. Communities throughout the area held parades and festivals for Independence Day.

Just after 10 in Magnolia, nearly a mile of Evesham Avenue, from St. Gregory's Church to Albertson Memorial Park, was closed so people could watch the parade.

The marchers were led by elected officials including U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), and eventually the cloudy morning gave way to clear skies.

"It was iffy at first, but thankfully, it cleared up," said Rich Cheeseman, who was at the parade for the first time.

Heiko Maas of Blackwood was there with his 4-year-old daughter, Claudia. "I come mostly for her to see the fire trucks," Maas said as he looked down at Claudia, who was in a red, white, and blue outfit. "She gets candy and gets to see the people and wave her flag."

Parade participants threw candy toward the waiting hands of children at the curb, while the Quaker City String Band and the sirens of fire trucks from the borough and bordering towns provided the soundtrack.

The parade has been a staple of the town for more than 40 years, said Mayor Betty Ann Cowling-Carson. She estimated that more than a thousand people lined Evesham Avenue for the parade and the community fair that was held in the Albertson park throughout the day. The fair included a barbecue competition and the Little Miss Magnolia Pageant.

Cowling-Carson said the longevity of the parade has allowed generations of families to attend.

"They all bring their kids back," the mayor said.

In Mount Ephraim, just after noon, people swarmed to Kings Highway as members of the borough's American Legion post led the main parade, which followed baby and bike parades in the morning.

Joe Moody, John Travis, and Jack Sheridan grew up in Mount Ephraim and said they had been attending the parade for as long as they can remember, though they have all moved to different towns.

"I don't think we've ever missed one," said Moody, who now lives in Brookhaven. Moody added that he won the baby parade in 1940.

As the heat and humidity began to take hold, youth baseball players on floats shot water guns at onlookers to cool them and a fire engine from Audubon Park followed up by spraying water toward the crowd.

The day also marked a somber anniversary for the borough's fire department. On July 4, 2002, two Mount Ephraim firefighters and a Gloucester City firefighter were killed while trying to rescue three little girls from a house fire in Gloucester City.

Carmela DiGenni, who moved to Mount Ephraim recently, said it is important for people to get out of the house on the Fourth of July, and not only because of the day's historical significance. "It's a day that everyone needs to get out and be with family," said DiGenni.

While looking out at the crowd that had ventured into the heat, Cowling-Carson noted the patriotism that the day represents.

"That's what it's all about," she said.


Contact Sean Carlin at 856-779-3237, scarlin@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.

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