Gloucester Daily Times
Published: 07/14/2007Lanesville celebration reaches new heights
By Peter K. Prybot
Ebb & Flow
"This was the best one yet," said Jay Frontiero, a firefighter from Lanesville.
Bruce Maki, a retired Gloucester police officer, added, "There were a lot of smiles."
Most watchers of the 15th annual Lanesville Fourth of July parade and bonfire's audience would concur. A huge crowd of spectators lined both sides of most of the parade's approximately 1-mile route from Andrews Street, through town, and back to Duley Street corroborated that the event's been discovered.
Who made this village treat happen?
Spectators have learned to expect the unexpected in the parade. This year a group carrying the annual Lanesville Fourth of July parade and bonfire banner led the marchers, followed by the kids and adults horribles and the band, but the audience saw a doubling of young and old participants, a parade that marched more slowly, and one that was more artistically presented.
Marchers included Tammy Cooper as Pocohontas and her father, Bobby; Skyler Noble, 4, dressed as Cinderella, her 6-year-old sister Alaina as a bride and their mother, Dee; Nancy Kwant as Wonder Woman; and Diane Place, Roberta Frederick and Mary Lovely as the Wives of Davy Jones. A colorful Chinese dragon, Keith Hickey and Sable Landon, and an elephant, Hal Wentworth, that had a mischievous urge to squirt the audience, trampled along the parade route, while a fish out of water, Paul Harrington, swam it.
"This was my first Lanesville parade. It was awesome to watch. This was also a wonderful community event where everyone came together and celebrated Independence Day," said Jacqui Mondello of Gloucester. Neighbor met neighbor, and many former residents revisited Lanesville just for the celebration.
Nick Parisi, wearing a Mexican sombrero for sun protection, again organized and led the band, around 100 musicians strong, in grand fashion. Mayoral candidate Jeff Worthley, who played the saxophone, was a new band member. Festivity founder Robin Smith, who hasn't missed a parade, commanded and played music with Matt France from a contraption they called "The Two Man Group." The crowd sang "God Bless America" with the band as it played briefly in Lanesville Commons at the corner of Tucker and Washington streets.
Judges Heather and Hannah Cain, Sarah Palazola, Alicia Clayton and Olivia Frontiero awarded congratulatory certificates to Hal Wentworth, first prize for his elephant entry; Paul Harrington, second for his fish entry; and to Keith Hickey and Sable Landon, third for their dragon entry. Wentworth, owner of the Stone Works, took first prizes in the last two parades.
By 9 p.m. spectators jammed most of the good vantage points of the Lane's Cove amphitheater to witness Part II of the celebration - the bonfire - the burning of an approximately 30-by -30-foot, four-layered, cake-shaped structure capped by a second story of a backyard garage and decorated by local artist and fisherman Charlie Williams (see related Talk of the Times story).
Although Mother Nature held back her tears during the parade, she wept lightly to moderately from a charcoal-colored veil and lowered the ground temperature thermostat to 72 degrees at ignition time. Spectators, many dressed for the occasion, knew the weather wouldn't cancel the bonfire.
Lanesville local Randy Young "got to light the fire this year. He cleaned up all of the nails from last year's bonfire," said Dickie Crowell, veteran bonfire architect who usually has that honor. Old Randy's attempts for combustion to overcome Murphy's Law took about 15 minutes. Finally, the faint glow of fire grew to engulf the largely hardwood pallet structure and sent lightning-like bolts of flames more than 100 feet into the sky.
The brilliant blues, reds and whites of exploding fireworks sporadically took the place of twinkling stars in the sky. Physics reduced what took days to build and years to grow to a heap of glowing embers by daybreak. By then, the huge crowd, in the thousands, had thinned to just four hearty souls who congregated near the fire.
Huge volunteer effort
A huge volunteer effort and donations from viewers and companies made this unique event happen.
Crowell designed and built this year's masterpiece again - one he described as "solid." Dan Brown of Cape Ann Structural and Concrete gave his time and use of his mobile crane; Paul Blanding of Bay View Recycling used his flatbed wrecker to transport bonfire materials.
"Dan put in more crane time than ever. He hoisted eight to 10 pallets that were strapped together. He made it go quicker this year," said Crowell's wife, Katie.
"There's nothing wrong helping out with the biggest and safest bonfire on the East Coast. It's also nice to see it get done safely. I've watched the group for years carry one pallet up at a time. They burn perfectly every year," Brown said.
Also helping build the bonfire were locals Jose Leland, Scott Stewart, Patrick Hennessy, Kobie Rekelhoff, Steve Thibodeau, Russell Haselgard, Jesse Benjamin, Steve Amaral Jr., Dusty Ketchopulos, Eric and Zach Smith, Paul Blanchard, Rick Pino Jr., Nate Pistenmaa, Hal Wentworth, Williams and Young. The Building Center, John B. Wright Fish Co., Steve Connolly Seafood Co., Rose's Marine, North Atlantic Seafood Co., Wolf Hill Landscaping Co. - all of Gloucester - and North Shore Recycled Fibers of Salem gave hundreds of clean, hardwood pallets.
Lanesville Package Store, Discovery Adventures and the Willow Rest contributed monetarily as did many local individuals and families.
Jane Mondello put together the parade and led it again.
Mondello and Parisi, who led the band, are founders of this Lanesville festivity.