Milltown holds a full day of virtual ‘pomp and circumstance’ festivities to celebrate the Fourth of July

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MILLTOWN – On a normal Fourth of July, David Potter would be up and out the door at 5 a.m. to set up the route for the Milltown Fourth of July parade, a tradition since the 1920s.

This year, Potter, president of the Milltown Fourth of July Committee, was sitting in his backyard awaiting cues from Russ Einbinder, who streamed a full day of activities and events live on Facebook.

Activities began at 9 a.m. with a virtual flag raising with Boy Scout Troop 33. Rosie Monaghan sang the national anthem and Mayor Trina Mehr wished everyone a Happy Fourth of July.

“The Milltown Fourth of July Committee works hard all year,” Mehr said. “This year, they continue to do so much work to plan other activities because of the COVID-19 crisis. All of us here in town really appreciate [the hard work.]”

In May, Potter, in a letter to the mayor and Borough Council, said it was in the committee’s “best interest of the health and public safety” to cancel the one-mile fun run and 5K sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the parade, the park festivities and the fireworks.

For two months Potter and the committee of 10 members came together to plan socially distanced activities and events around the town to continue the borough’s tradition to celebrate the nation’s birthday.

“It actually was harder to plan this year,” he said. “I did get to sleep in, I’m usually up at 5 a.m. … this year I started in my backyard.”

Around 8:15 a.m., some 30 runners took part in the virtual 5K. The runners were met at the finish line by Garret Conger and his fiancée Elisa, who provided water, Gatorade, medals, trophies and breakfast sandwiches, in front of their decorated home on JF Kennedy Drive in red, white and blue.

For nine years, Conger has decorated his home for the Fourth of July and for five years, he has provided medals and trophies for the runners. His home has been named Milltown’s “Most Patriotic House” in 2018 and 2019.

“When I heard they were still running it virtually this year, we set up the table,” he said.

Potter said usually they hold an apple pie contest, but this year they decided to hold a pizza pie contest, which was sponsored by Dusals, Francesco Pizza and Maria’s Pizza and Subs. Thirteen people entered the contest. The top three winners – Maggie Young, Benny Motin and Dina Fleming – received gift certificates.

Following the flag raising ceremony, Mr. Ray, a well-known children’s musician, held a concert from his home in Highland Park. At 11 a.m., the Milltown Marching Band performed and marched down Van Liew Avenue, which marks the beginning of the traditional parade.

From noon to 3 p.m., the Milltown Fire Department and the Milltown Rescue Squad escorted Uncle Sam around town. And at 9 p.m., residents stepped outside their homes to make some noise and were treated with a light display. The committee rented skytracker lights from Miller’s Rentals, which was set up at Borough Park.

Potter said local businesses, Party Bliss and Total Party Balloon, provided decorations and Uncle Sam for the virtual events around the borough. Many local businesses and residents decorated their homes in red, white and blue.

Former Councilman George Murray and other volunteers were instrumental in providing a red, white and blue Milltown sign, which is floating in Mill Pond. A local car wash provided barrels for the sign to float on.

All the activities and events will be aired on Channel 15 and posted on Facebook and YouTube.

For more information about the full day of festivities, visit Milltown4thofJuly.org.