A cool July 4th festival
With evening parade and entertainment in shady Janosik Park, annual event escapes typical heat

By Lynn R. Parks

On a warm July 4th afternoon, Gwen and Bill Messenger, Blades, sat in the shade of a tree, enjoying the sounds of the classic rock group The Funsters. Each was dressed in red, white and blue; each thought that the Janosik Park on the banks of Broad Creek was a great place for Laurel's annual Independence Day celebration. "This is a beautiful park," Gwen said. "This is just like you know it had to be years ago, when all small towns had their own July 4th celebration. "And look at how many people are wearing red, white and blue," she added, waving her hand in the direction of the crowd. "This is a really nice place to have the festival," added her husband, a native of Ohio. "This is how July 4th was when I was a kid, with all the small towns celebrating." For the first time in its 13-year history, the Laurel Fourth of July celebration was held on the shaded banks of Broad Creek. Food and craft vendors were set up along Laureltowne Street, from Central Avenue to Laureltowne, and the bandstand was set up in Janosik Park. "I love it here," said Stacy Tripi, Seaford, who was lying on a blanket under a tree on the creek bank. "It is very relaxing." Tripi and her boyfriend, Ron Wheeler, also of Seaford, planned to spend the whole day in Laurel. They had just finished a pizza and wanted to get some kind of dessert – "I have to have my sugar," Tripi said – before the evening's fireworks. They had also spent the evening before in Laurel, watching the traditional Red, White and Blue Parade and enjoying the sounds of rock band Route 1.

"I hope we can do this every year," Wheeler said. Al Turchin, president of the Laurel Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event, said Tuesday that the parade, held the evening of July 3, when the heat of the day had faded, attracted a large number of people. "I have never seen such a crowd as was there for the parade," he said. Wednesday's festival, in the shade of Janosik Park, was also a success, Turchin said. "I am very pleased with the result," he said. "I can't tell you how many comments I have heard from people who were very happy with the event in the park." "This was a huge success," added Tammy Sisk, executive director of the chamber. "Laurel people don't like change and at first, a lot of people were negative about the changes. But it all turned into a positive. People really enjoyed it." Sisk said that the food vendors were very pleased with the turnout. "The vendors left very happy," she said. One of those food vendors was the West Field Club, a family group of about 15 members that was raising money for a trip to Williamsburg, Va. The club sold oyster fritters and, said spokesman Richard West Sr., did better than members expected. Midway through the afternoon, several of the club members had to go to the store to buy additional gallons of oysters. "We were here two years ago and sold chicken," said West, who was sitting outside the food booth, under a tree. "We were set up along Central Avenue, and it was very hot. This is much better, sitting in the shade."

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