Saturday, July 08, 2006

4th of July on Lanes Cove - 2006

An amazing 4th of July here on the cove. A great parade with downpour showers at the very end. The bonfire was a bit slow to start due to the showers, but once it was going--it went!

Gloucester Daily Times

Lanesville abuzz over Independence Day festivities

Published: July 08, 2006 12:00 am
Ebb & Flow

Peter K. Prybot

The making of the one-of-a-kind 2006 Lanesville Fourth of July parade and bonfire mirrored the construction of a bee hive, except that there were three queen bees presiding over the swarm of worker bees.

This small-town America event turned out to be a crowd pleaser despite challenges from Mother Nature, who closed the drapes on the sun by early afternoon that torrid Tuesday, spat out several showers later on and held onto midget mugginess and an 80-degree temperature even at dusk.

Fortunately, she breathed gently out of the southwest during the bonfire.

Leaders of the hive

The cofounder of the event and parade grand marshal, Jane Mondello, is one of those queen bees. Dressed as Carmen Miranda, she first grouped the parade's record-setting, approximately 200 entrants at Lane's Cove into kids, horribles, and bands, then led the swarm through downtown Lanesville.

In the past, Jane had been helped by festivity cofounder and participant, Mary Parisi, who died of a brain tumor last year.

The architect behind the pyramid-shaped bonfire - approximately 40 feet high, 30 feet long and 25 feet wide, Dickie Crowell, is another leader.

This year, Crowell's creation mimicked the pyramid on the back of a dollar bill, complete with an eye. An outhouse housing an effigy of a diver sitting on a potty capped the solid pyramid structure made of outer tiers of desert-dry hardwood pallets with a core of odds and ends of clean wood.

North Shore Recycled Fibers of Salem, Town & Country Masonry of Magnolia, The Building Center, Steve Connolly Seafood Company and the John B. Wright Fish Company donated many of the pallets.

Fishermen members of the Cove expressed their distaste for some scuba divers by affixing a skull and crossbones and several "no divers" banners and flags to the bonfire, along with the diver effigy in the outhouse. Some of the divers who park at the Cove and dive off the rocks there have plundered lobster traps and have been accused of defecating in the bushes.

Charlie Williams drew up the skull and crossbones, which equated these bad divers with pirates, while Nate Pistenmaa, who was born on July 4, cut it out, and George Andriotti painted it.

"Wait until you see next year's design. I have it planned out already," said Crowell, a commercial lobsterman and clam digger. Incidentally, Minister Shamus Monihan from South Boston, married Crowell and his wife Katie last Fourth of July on top of a special wedding-cake-shaped bonfire.

Dan Brown, the brawny owner of Cape Ann Structural and Concrete, is a third major player of the festivity. Once again, he donated hours of his expertise and his mobile crane, which hoisted hundreds of strapped units of pallets and loose firewood during the building of the bonfire.

"He saves a lot of manpower," said lobsterman Glenn Rose. "Getting the job done is much safer this way. I do this for the love of mankind, the community of Lanesville, and my good friends," Brown explained.

The worker bees

Besides those leaders, thousands of worker bees did little jobs to put the big event together. Right off, bonfire builders Randy Young, George Andriotti, Paul Blanding, Scott Stuart, Patrick Hennessy, Kobie Rekelhoff, Steve Thibodeau, Russell Haselgard, Jesse Benjamin, Steve Amaral Jr., Charlie Williams, Dusty Ketchopolus, Eric and Zach Smith, Paul Blanchard, Rich Pino Jr., Nate Pistenmaa and Hal Wentworth picked up, delivered and stacked pallets.

"I've been coming down to the Cove my whole life; you just have to help out," said worker Steve Thibodeau, an employee at Sudbay's in Gloucester. "The building of this year's bonfire was a whole week event," said Crowell.

Parade participants, who exhibited latitude in age and themes this year, also made the event happen.

Jackie Medico and Jessica Cooper were the first women to carry the celebration's traditional Lanesville Fourth of July banner. Builder Geoff Richon paraded his 1934 Ford. B.G. & Kat Brown, along with their children Ila, 3, and Will, 1, - one of many families - marched as pirates, while Hal Wentworth paraded as a turtle and Russ Hudson as the official "Miss Lanesville," led by handler Cliff McCarthy. Nathan Cohen, a professional musician, also marched and performed in the band section.

The approximately 2,000-strong audience, made up of neighbors, locals and out-of-town visitors, was an integral part of the festivity, too.

"I love Lanesville because of this," said local Kim Spaner.

Dave Crowley, visiting from Yonkers, N.Y., added, "This parade is real people celebrating the Fourth. I love it. We need it in New York."

"No one in our family has ever seen a Fourth of July celebration like this. Last year was the first time they saw it. They enjoyed it so much that they all wanted to come back," said resident Susan Pories, from Newton. Her family traveled from Ohio, Michigan, California and even North Carolina.

Many Lanesville homeowners along the parade route, like the Stowells, Nattis and Montgomerys, also contributed by hanging current or historic American flags and red, white and blue buntings from their dwellings.

Jean Phillips, Christy Marques, Phoebe Souza, Ganine Montgomery, Missy Pierce and Judy Bonchue did their part by judging the parade entrants and handing out $10 gift certificates to Lobsta Land to the winners. These included: children Myriam Callahan (child Indian), Peter Mondello (fisherman), and Mariah Place ("Vote for Pedro - Napoleon Dynamite") and adults Hal Wentworth (turtle), Steve Amaral (astronaut), and Russ Hudson and Cliff McCarthy (Miss Lanesville and "her" handler).

The Steve Amazeen Band (including, besides Amazeen, Len Presutti, Chris Kariores, Wendy Brackett, Walter Carpenter, and Mark Davis) came through again this year and performed blues at the Cove before and during the bonfire. Their music resonated well within the Cove's natural amphitheater.

All of these components combined for what viewers say was the biggest and best Lanesville Fourth of July parade and bonfire. Just as importantly, the event had the best-behaved crowd ever. The continual "Wows!" coming from the spectators, the looks of awe frozen on their faces and the sense of patriotism, and community radiating from the crowd confirmed the event did its job.


  • Thanks so much for the web cam on the bonfire!!! It was enjoyed by so many people. Everyone I talked to said how much they appreciated it.

    By Blogger Kathleen Valentine, at 5:08 PM  

  • Looking forward to more Lanesville Bonfire photos! Wasn't able to make it this year... Oh well, there is always next year!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:25 PM  

  • Your scuba diver reference seems akin to Klu Klux clan mentality. Complete with Bonfires and hatred.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:34 AM  

  • There are very strong negative feelings about scuba divers among the lobstermen. I am neither, but as I understand, Massachusetts is the only state that allows divers to take lobsters (don't try it in Maine, you will get shot or at least arrested). Considering that it is almost impossible to police the stealing of lobsters from traps, it is no wonder that people who lobster for a living get upset with divers who steal from their traps. Lobstermen can detect when their traps have been opened, or watch when the trail of bubbles follows the line of traps they've set.

    So, is there a difference between someone who does it for a living, vs. someone who does it for recreation? Picking up lobsters off the rocks is permissable, taking them out of traps is not. So when the diver comes out of the water, how can you tell where the lobsters came from? It is all too easy of a crime to commit (theft), so even if it is only a small percentage of divers who do this, it still hurts the lobstermen, and they are unable to prevent it.

    I guess you might start to understand why people get so angry about this issue--when you are powerless to change a situation that affects you, that's when you are the most frustrated (and angry).

    By Blogger Stan, at 12:09 PM  

  • Scuba divers are not all stealing from traps nor are they all deficating in your bushes. Displaying violent behavior and promoting negative feelings about an entire group of recreational divers who may lobster fish is just not justifiable based on a powerlessness to stop them. This article published was particularly inflammatory. Wouldn't you say? What good could come from this article?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:43 AM  

  • I'm afraid that both divers and lobstermen are the victims of some dishonest divers who rob lobster traps. Is it a widespread practice? Impossible to accurately determine (lobstermen say yes, divers say no). Burning effigies of divers is definitely not in good taste.

    The real question is whether or not there can be common ground on this issue. If someone steals corn from a farmer's field and the farmer catches them coming out of the field, it is pretty obvious they are guilty. When a diver comes out of the water with a bag of lobsters, well, how can you tell where they came from? Unless the Environment Police station divers to watch over the traps, I don't see another way to protect the lobstermen's livelihood.

    This issue generates strong feelings on both sides. Do you think there is common ground, or do you believe this isn't a real problem - that lobstermen are overblowing the issue and are unjustly blaming poor catches on the divers?

    As far as I know, there are no studies or statistics on this issue - it is all anecdotal evidence. So that just adds to the confusion.

    By Blogger Stan, at 11:02 AM  

  • Vigilanty activism and the inciteful behavior at this Lane's Cove event is not going to protect a lobsterman's catch. I am afraid it endangers everyone involved. I don't think it should be promoted by a town.

    I do not feel like a criminal skulking out of a corn field when I leave the ocean with a lobster catch. I paid for a license and followed regulations. I do feel that this type of public celebration endangers my safety and is perhaps a civil rights case in the making.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:19 PM  

  • The article in the Gloucester Times was written by a former lobsterman, Peter Prybot. I image he might have a bias against divers. I suggest that you write a letter to the Times about it. Other than that, it was a nice piece covering a local event that has become very popular--and not because of negative connotations about divers. Last year there was a wedding on top of the pile before the fire was lit.

    Rockport has an annual 4th of July bonfire. They burned an effigy of Frosty the Snowman a couple of years back. There was such an uproar that the next year they distributed "Frosty Lives" tee shirts.

    I'm glad you don't feel like a criminal when you come out of the water. I'm sure that the vast majority of divers are honest. And in this country you are innocent unless proven guilty.

    I can't condone the actions of lobstermen who harass honest divers. I'm not sure that the bonfire has incited the lobstermen any more than they already are over this issue--and I can understand that it is intimidating to you.

    As far as your civil rights, I suggest you talk to the Attorney General.

    Thank you for your opinion on this matter.

    By Blogger Stan, at 1:02 PM  

  • Thanks to everyone who works hard to put this event together - I went for the first time last year ('05) and couldn't wait to go again this year! It truly is the highlight of my summer (and my friends as well!). As an out-of-towner from the Merrimack Valley, it is nice to know that wild celebrations like this still go on in today's play-it-safe and cautious world. It is a breath of fresh air just to have fun and celebrate this life and our fortunes of residing in this country. Keep it up, you are really giving people a great gift!

    By Anonymous Brian Hood, at 6:44 PM  

  • Burning divers in effigy? What a bunch of ass-clowns.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:22 AM  

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