Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Late-night rowdiness dampens great Lanesville holiday

Late-night rowdiness dampens great Lanesville holiday
Ebb & Flow
Peter K. Prybot

Organizers of the second annual Lanesville Emergency Action Program's July 4 Extravaganza and the 18th annual Lanesville Fourth of July parade and bonfire treated thousands of locals and out-of-towners to separate, superb Independence Day celebrations.

Remarkably, the weather did its part with a sky showing its infinity and heavenly bodies, a temperature around 70 degrees and, finally, a light and dry wind out of the west.

Unfortunately, the late-night rowdiness brought on by mainly underage drinking at and around the Cove not only left many neighbors angry and parade and bonfire organizers discouraged and even ill, but could also threaten such future events.

Independence Day joy began emanating from people's faces by 10a.m. at the Lanesville Community Center as LEAP's Whistle Blower's 4K road race, followed by Whistle Blower's 1-mile fun run got underway. Nearly 200 people competed in these runs organized again by LEAP member Beth Vasta, while her peer, Leslie Milne, put together the whole fun, fund-raiser festivity.

Awards were then handed out, followed by raffles, a barbecue, games — including a softball match — and float building and bike decorating until the extravaganza ended in the afternoon.

The 4K road race winners included:

Men's Division — Jason Cakouros (1st), Daniel Verrington (2nd ), Thomas Jarvis (3rd ), Connor Blalock (16 and under), Bob Gillis (50 and over), Kurt Ankeny (Lanesville Male).

Women's Divison — Annaliese VanderBaan (1st ), Danielle Decharles (2nd), Jennifer Beauchamp-Ankeny (3rd), Annaliese VanderBaan (16 and under), Beth Lott (50 and over), Jennifer Beauchamp-Ankeny (Lanesville female).

More Independence Day joy flowed from the faces of the thousands of spectators, including Ward 4 Councilor Jackie Hardy and St. Peter's Fiesta greasy pole legend Salvi Benson, lining downtown Lanesville streets as the parade got underway around 6:30 p.m.

Judi and Wendy Rose and Jenn Nicholas carried the traditional parade banner in the forefront. Behind them were the kids, horribles and floats, and band sections. Veteran parade grand marshal Jane Mondello, creatively dressed in green as a kazoo, was also right there spearheading the parade, while orchestra maestro Nick Parisi Sr. led his band, including professional musician Nathan Cohen of Lanesville, again this year.

The crowd frequently cheered its approval of the parade's creative entries. David, Lenny, Gabriella and Amy Robertson, Christina Carpenter, Bridgett Flynn, Bonnie Tarr, and Dani Bailer built and ran the largest float ever in the parade's 18 years. Titled "The Liberty Lobster," besides the aforementioned crustacean, the float also included a large sign, a person dressed as a stick of butter, a cook and even a tourist chasing after the lobster.

Ten young ladies paraded together carrying "Pray for Lacey" signs for friend Lacey Natti of Lanesville, who, luckily, is on the mend from a life-threatening illness

Following tradition, Parisi and his 75-plus-member band performed "God Bless America" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at Montgomery Square. Confetti rained down on them at times, the crowd joined in the sing-along, and the patriotism in the air there could be sliced with a knife.

The joy only intensified as the sun went to bed and a nearly full moon woke up. Sammy Sanfilippo continued to cook up and serve mainly seafood to the public at his tent down at the Cove. Sanfilippo, a former Gloucester fisherman from a multi-generational fishing family, does the same thing during the St. Peter's Fiesta.

"Sammy does it all for free," noted friend Brian Cusick.

"I gave away 1,000 pounds of food this Fiesta. My buddies are all fishermen, and they donate the food," said Sanfilippo.

At 9 p.m., the thousands of viewers lining the Cove's amphitheater began cheering as the bonfire builders torched the square-shaped, tiered structure made of 1,400 pallets and clean fill. One of its upper sides displayed the fishing community's distaste for the National Marine Fisheries Service with a large sign that read: "NMFS - Destroying fishermen and their communities since 1976."

Combustion finally got the upper hand of the bonfire after about a 30-minute struggle, thanks to the past week's rains. Fireworks at the Cove, nearby from the Plum Cove area, and even across the Bay, frequently showed off patriotic colors overhead, and some had more to say than others.

The Steve Amazeen Band added to the ambience. The fireworks, music and bonfire further erased any remaining long faces brought on by June's gloom.

Rick Pino Jr. took on the responsibility as bonfire chairman again this year. He and about 40 volunteers built the bonfire all by hand in a week, often during downpours.

Besides Pino, the volunteers included Brendan Allen, Steve Amaral Jr., Marc Appleton, Jessie Benjamin, Ed Catto, Herman Fritz, Bob Gorrell Jr., Gary and Russell Haselgard, Art Heinonen, Patrick Hennessy, Chris Hodgkins, Steve and Zack Johnson, Billy Jones, Kenny Keiser, Dusty Ketchopulos, Jose Leland, Aaron Martin, Aaron Natty, Anthony Novello, Sam O'Gorman, Nate Pistenmaa, Colby Polisson, Colby Rickelhoff, Eric, Robin, Jeremiah and Zack Smith, Scott Stewart, Brian, Jason and Steven Thibodeau, Hal Wentworth, Charlie Williams, and Randy Young.

Former bonfire chairman Dick Crowell and his wife, Katie, often stood by to give advice.

Companies also donated pallets or their vehicles and time to transport them. The former include Atlantic Reefer Co., Bay View Auto Recycle, Canaan Farm, Cape Seafoods Inc., Captain Joe & Sons, Gloucester Engineering, Goose Cove Gardens, Marshall's Farm Stand, Moveras of Salem, N.H., Rose's Marine and Wolf Hill. The latter included ABI Landscaping, B.C. Trucking, Lighthouse Landscaping, Northern Essex Ltd., and Steve's Can's & Grass Cutting. The public dropped off clean wood for the bonfire, too.

Many spectators, including Jane Mondello and her husband Frank, headed home from the Cove around 11 p.m. feeling good about the day's events.

Little did they know then that the Cove's peace would soon be broken by large, unruly gatherings of mostly under-aged drinkers. Fights broke out, and four police cruisers eventually dispersed the crowds.

Neighbors were also angered by litter, especially broken bottles, strangers in their backyards, and people knocking on their doors to use their bathrooms.

All of this annoying behavior for such a special public event was especially a slap in the face for the organizers like Pino and Mondello who gave their time to make it work and be enjoyable for everyone.

"It's all about the community," Pino told Ebb & Flow days before the Fourth of July. Many event organizers and neighbors had the Cove cleaned by 9 the next morning.

"It's a shame people who don't respect the area come down and just wreck it," said Mondello, one of the original organizers of the Lanesville parade and bonfire. "We (the organizers) need to let what happened settle down and then talk it over and decide what needs to happen.

"That could include taking a year off," she said. "It's gotten too big for us."

Gloucester lobsterman Peter K. Prybot writes weekly for the Times about the fishing industry, related issues and occasionally about the goings-on in Lanesville. directory