OSWEGO, NY – Families and friends packed both sides of West Bridge Street for Oswego’s annual 4th of July Parade on Sunday.
Temperatures flirted with 80 degrees and a light breeze made it perfect to sit by the side of the road and watch the parade go by.
The parade came up West Bridge Street at 1 p.m. and headed east, passing large cheering crowds as it did so.
Many people have been attending the annual parade for years.
For some it is a tradition to arrive several hours before the parade and stake out their favorite spots using lawn furniture and blankets. There is an unwritten parade law that you don’t disturb a location someone has already claimed.
While Oswego had hosted many parades on different occasions, it was during 1964 that friends and fellow Jaycee members Bill Green and Bill Gregway decided that Oswego needed a bigger event than just a fireworks display to celebrate our nation’s birthday.
Thus the tradition of the Oswego Independence Day Parade was born.
The original parade had a budget of approximately $600 and started by Oswego Hospital, traveling east to Fort Ontario.
Through the years, the Jaycees and Jayncees evolved the parade to an increased route and a celebration that included a drum corps show, originally held at Fort Ontario, then later moved to Wilbur Field at Leighton Elementary School.
When the local Jaycees group disbanded, several local service organizations stepped in to keep the tradition alive and eventually the city of Oswego asked the local chamber of commerce to take over organizing the event.
This year, as they always have, representatives of Oswego Health’s Sun Patrol passed out sunscreen to help keep people safe in the sun.
The sun patrol was established in 1990 when Nurse Practitioner, Nancy Dowd, a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department of Oswego Hospital at the time, noticed that there were many children coming into the emergency department with severe and sometimes second-degree sun burns following the Fourth of July parade.
Trucks, floats, and police cars were aplenty as well as a few marching bands and other musical acts, including a glimpse at the Oswego Players’ upcoming production of Guys and Dolls.
Among the marching bands were: the pride of Oswego the Marching Buccaneers, the Marching Matadors from Mexico, the CNY Fire and Police Marching Band, the Island Band, and some newcomers.
“I enjoy coming to the parade each year,” said Diane Zeller. “I like it when they have the bagpipes. I also like the Fire-Police band (from Syracuse). It’s always a good time at the parade.”
For Sue Matthews, people watching prior to the parade is a tradition.
“It’s fun to get here early and just watch the people – especially the little kids. They are so full of energy,” she said. “I like seeing all the different floats and bands during the parade.”
Many groups threw candy to the crowd, which children dove after with gusto.
Dozens of American flags, courtesy of the VFW, were handed out to highlight the patriotic theme of the day.
There were also several vendors walking up and down the street selling SnoCones, balloons, and hotdogs to the hungry crowd.
To ensure the crowd didn’t get overheated, members of various marching units, including residents of the Oswego Ladies’ Home, sprayed people along the route with cool water.
As the parade came to an end and traffic began to flow on Bridge Street, one youngster asked his mother, “Is that the real traffic now?”
The parade may have come to an end, but the celebration wasn’t over until the last fireworks display burst in the air Sunday evening.