Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July Celebration in Lanesville

Here is the article from the Gloucester Daily Times:

A gala celebration in Lanesville

By Peter K. Prybot
July 12, 2008 05:35 am

The 17th annual Lanvesville Fourth of July parade and bonfire were beauts.

The community and guests there even got an added Independence Day treat — the first-ever July 4th extravaganza at the Lanesville Community Center. But, organizers of the parade and bonfire say new rules need to be set in place for 2009 after what happened at the Cove after the day was done.

"This was Leslie Milne's brainchild; she created the whole thing," said Beth Vasta, a member of Lanesville Emergency Action Program's organizing committee. Her well-organized and well-executed "brainchild" included a Whistleblowers 4K road race and 1-mile fun run, a barbecue, kids' games, raffles, and building a float and decorating bikes for the parade later in the day. Frank Stewart from Lanesville acted as master of ceremonies.

That event's proceeds will help LEAP purchase emergency gear, especially a central whistle to quickly notify the community of an emergency the way the Lanesville Congregational Church bells' signaled "no school" in the 1950s. Ninety-two contestants participated in the 4K road race, and 27 in the fun run. The winners and their times can be found on LEAP's Web site,

The 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. event "... really turned into something wonderful," Vasta said. "I was surprised at the turnout, despite the morning rain. This showed a lot of spirit, and that's Lanesville," Stewart added.

The parade was bigger and better. That was the general consensus of the hundreds of viewers who swelled along much of the parade route up Andrews Street, through downtown Lanesville and back to Duley Street. Once again, two of the festivity founders — Jane Mondello and Nick Parisi Sr. — repeated their roles as grand parade marshal and band conductor, respectively. Mondello, dressed as Buzzilla this year, organizes the parade down at the Cove and makes sure it gets underway at 6:30 p.m. She also slowed the parade's flow this year, aided by walkie-talkies. No motorized vehicles are allowed in the parade, and no pre-registration is necessary — all participants need to do is to show up at the Cove around 6 p.m.

The number of parade entrants doubled last year's, exceeding 200. The quality of their costumes and floats showed lots of time went into them. Santa Claus, absent last year, marched again, as did the intellectual dressed in cap and gown. They were joined by Robin Hood, jellyfish, a dragon and a Deadliest Catch/Time Bandit and pirate ship floats. The pirate ship's functional water cannon squirted many viewers.

Flanked by creatively dressed and made-up vociferous band members, including several professional musicians, and fanned by two large flapping American flags to his rear, Maestro Nick Parisi received audience "Bravisimos" for his (and the band's) splendid performance at Montgomery Square that touched hearts and souls.

The bonfire was also bigger, planned by new blood and strictly controlled this year. After 16 bonfires, veteran architect Dickie Crowell stepped down for a breather, and Hal Wentworth, owner of Wentworth Custom Stone Work, and Rick Pino Jr., a DPW employee, stepped up.

"I decided to step up because the community enjoys the bonfire so much," Pino said.

"My bonfires would have fit into this one," said Crowell, who married his wife, Katie, atop one of his (bonfire) masterpieces three years ago. Exterior peripheral stacks of approximately 2,000 hardwood pallets, centered with clean wood scraps, formed this year's bonfire that reached a height of 32 feet, and was capped off by a grand piano and a dummy playing it. Musician Nathan Cohen donated the old piano. Maybe the group honored the performing arts this 4th.

The community dropped off the clean wood scraps, even "an old log float from Squam that Doc Stanwood (former harbormaster there) made 60 years ago," resident David "Dirt" Murray said. The Building Center, Wolf Hill, Cape Seafoods Inc., Capt. Joe & Sons — all from Gloucester — Wood Trucking Co. from Peabody, and North Shore Recycling Fibers from Salem donated the pallets.

Beginning a week prior to July 4, Wentworth and Pino and their army of volunteers — Patrick Hennessy, Charlie Williams, Dusty Ketchopulos, Paul Blanding, Steve Amaral Jr., Zack and Jeremiah Smith, P.C. Nicolosi, Brian, Jason and Steven Thibodeau, Jamison Knowlton, Aaron Martin, Marc Appleton, Billy Jones, Kobie Rickelhoff, Randy Young, Aaron Natti, Joe Leland, Zack Johnson, Mike and Nate Pistenmaa, Peter Hickey, Russell Haselgard, and Scott Stuart — picked up and dropped off pallets and built the structure. Once again, Dan Brown, owner of Cape Ann Structural and Concrete, topped off the bonfire — pro bono — with his mobile crane. All of the work was completed by July 4, "So everyone could relax that day," Pino said.

Pino, Wentworth and fellow bonfire committee members Jackie Silva and Jane Mondello met with Fire Chief Barry McKay earlier and adhered to his requirements, including hiring a fire detail, no fireworks in the fire, posting "keep off" and "danger" signs on the bonfire, taping and fencing it off, and allowing no one on the road leading to the bonfire on the 4th . A donation can is set up every year at the Lanesville Package Store to help pay for expenses, which run in the hundreds.

By late day, a swirled, pale salmon and mauve sky gave way to partial cloudiness under darkness. A southerly wind, barely able to occasionally flap nearby flags, struggled in the mid-50-degree air, cool enough to suppress the midgets and mosquitoes and warrant a sweatshirt for some.

Five of the bonfire builders torched off a corner stuffed with rolled newspapers and cedar shingles promptly at 9 p.m. as the rest of the army recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Combustion at best quickly lit up hundreds of faces in the Cove's amphitheater and sent flames 100 feet into the sky. Musical notes from the Steve Amazeen Band at Flat Rocks and Mike Scagliotti's bagpipe and Nathan Cohen's violin atop the eastern breakwater added to the blaze's crackles.

Brilliant patriotic colors from exploding aerial fireworks often cascaded from the sky, and the periodic resonating booms emanating from the roving, phantom artillery man's cannon going off at the water's edge at Flat Rocks shook the wax right out of your ears. This was a spectacular show!

There was a downside to the aftermath. Although many people began leaving the cove around 10:30 p.m. — and all was quiet — a large group of apparent teens and 20-year-olds stayed on and imbibed into the early morning.

Actions from their debauchery — noise, littering (especially bottle breaking), even a theft and act of vandalism — disturbed residents and the parade and bonfire committees.

"We are not going to put up with that," committee member Jane Mondello said.

Her group is already considering changes to prevent a reoccurrence of this year — including hiring extra police.

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