LAVALLETTE – Since 2013, the borough’s ocean front has served as the setting for a parade of red, white and blue with bicycles, scooters and other wheeled entries to celebrate Independence Day.
The event, sponsored by the Lavallette Business Association, returned for its fifth year, on July 4 itself. While Seaside Park’s Bike Parade, a barrier island favorite, has been taking place for decades, graced the bayfront at the same time, Lavallette’s kicked off on the President Avenue oceanfront boardwalk.
“We usually get about 300 people,” Lavallette Council President Anita Zalom said with excitement, shortly before the parade started.
Rebecca Malloy, president of the LBA added that the parade starts on President Avenue “and will go on to New York Avenue where we will have face painting for the children. We usually hold the parade the Saturday before the Fourth of July but because of how the date fell, we didn’t want to do this in June.”
“We always get so many families who come out and take part in this event. It began the summer after Superstorm Sandy,” Malloy said.
President Avenue seemed a good choice for a kick off point, nearly every home on the ocean front block was adorned with bunting and/or at least one American flag. The lineup began before 8:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. parade. The pledge of allegiance started the program and then the peddling began.
Logan Malloy, 6, and her sister Ella, 7, were out front with their bikes which were as decorated as they were. Logan sported a pair of “Old Glory” sunglasses that allowed her to peddle without getting too much sun in her eyes.
Borough resident Donna Speaker wore perhaps the most unique headgear of all those present. Speaker was busy taking photos of her family wearing a red, white and blue feathered hat that she got several weeks ago.
“I got it at the Christmas Tree Shop. I’m glad I got it when I did because now everything over there is ready for Halloween,” Speaker said.
Joining her was her husband Mark and her grandson Shane, 9, and granddaughter Kiana, 6 who were vacationing with them from Pennsylvania.
“We come out for this every year,” Speaker said.
For 17-month-old Bradley Meade of Norristown, Pa. this event marked his first patriotic bike parade in the borough…or anywhere else for that matter. His parents Jennifer and Steve wore red, white and blue as well but he got to enjoy a ride in his decorated wagon.
“We’re enjoying a vacation at my aunt’s home here in Lavallette,” Jennifer Meade said. “We are new to the town and this will be our first summer here.”
Mason Maglies, 2, joined his parents Danielle and Shawn Maglies for the event for the first time as well.
“This is our first year,” Danielle Maglies said. “Next year we’ll have to work on decorating his wagon a bit more.”
“I’m amazed with the turnout and what the LBA does each year. It is wonderful to see the adults turn out for this but it is especially wonderful to see all these cute children celebrating the Fourth of July and celebrating our great country,” Zalom said.
Zalom periodically stopped some of the children to have them wish everyone a “Happy Fourth of July” and the retired music teacher also took the opportunity to belt out “God Bless America” and “Three Cheers For the Red, White, and Blue.”
Ironically, for a bike parade, the event kicked off with a trio of scooter riders but that was okay. One family peddled the parade route in a surrey and the last person who crossed, the red, white and blue balloon archway was carrying an American flag that he carefully maneuvered under the archway without bursting any of the balloons.
The parade route went up to New York Avenue where children enjoyed having their face painted. The borough’s business district was packed with residents and visitors during the morning who wanted to enjoy breakfast or an ice coffee at one of the many café’s and restaurants along Grand Central Boulevard.
“This makes for a nice family tradition for this wonderful holiday,” Zalom said.