Story by Kristina Hoti
The Warwick Valley Community Center (WVCC), located at 11 Hamilton Ave. in Warwick, hosted the “Olde Time Family Fourth” Celebration on Tues., Jul. 4. The Independence Day festivities were a fundraiser for the Community Center, with an admission cost of $7 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.
The event began at 10:45 a.m. at the Railroad Green, with a bicycle parade and pageant. Families gathered at the Railroad Green and children showed off their decorated bicycles, which would be judged in an informal contest with categories such as “most patriotic” and “most vintage.”
By 11 a.m., the festive and patriotic group had paraded through the Village to the Community Center, where games, food, craft vendors, a dunk tank, and live entertainment awaited. Amelia Pizza was the first on the “hot seat” in the dunk tank and had some initial surprises while her friends gave her a few “test” dunks. When asked how she got signed up to sit in the dunk tank, she said, “My mom is on the Board!”
Musical entertainment was plentiful with performances by Two Bank Street, singer-songwriter Shannon Rogers, the WVHS Meistersingers, E’lissa Jones, and caller Pat Cannon, who led the party in a square dance later in the afternoon.
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, dressed in full revolutionary regalia for the occasion, told the story of the decision that representatives of the original 13 colonies made for independence, which culminated in the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Sweeton then read the Declaration from an old-fashioned scroll.
Next, Sweeton introduced two boy scouts, Jacob and Liam, representing Troop #121, who read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The stage and music for the festivities were sponsored by Warwick Tomatoes, which also provided free cucumbers to anyone interested in entering the pickle-making contest.
The food tent was busy, with hot dogs, pulled pork, mac and cheese, and fresh corn available for sale, along with a host of sides, beverages, and a “dinner platter.” The propane used for cooking was provided thanks to the generosity of Roe Brothers.
Old fashioned games and contests were played, hosted by volunteers from the Bruderhof Community, including a “corn hole” bean bag toss, an egg and spoon race, a tug-of-war, a sack race, and a water balloon toss.
Evan Weinberg played with his daughter Arianna and son Steven, while his wife volunteered at the event. They heard about the event while attending boy scout meetings at the Community Center.
WVCC Board Member Sharlynn Pizza gave of her time and energy for this event, in addition to lending her daughter for the dunk tank. She passed out buttons to volunteers to allow them to get food, while chatting about upcoming projects at the WVCC.
“I joined the Center because all three of my girls have played a part in this community center,” Pizza explained. She is excited to be a part of a “new board, full of energy and ideas” for the center.
Pizza enthusiastically described the three phases of the project for the Center’s Three Pines Nature Place, taken on by the WVCC Board. This play area in progress is to replace the swing set which dates to the early 1980’s, on the grounds of the Community Center. Currently, the first phase is complete, which is that a ground cover has been laid down. There is a large interactive chalk board which the children were enjoying at the event. Also, a wet/dry stream bed has been carved out, which will be completed in a later phase.
The second phase will be to bring in larger elements of the natural area, for example a palisade of white cedar logs, a fallen tree, and a “stump jump.” Natural loose parts will also be included, to create “tinker toys” for children to keep their hands busy. The intermittent wet/dry riverbed will be completed, along with sensory and sound gardens.
The third and final phase will be to develop the hillside that leads up to the orchard behind the center, creating a natural slide formation, with stepping stones to reach the top. Pizza mentioned that the Center is always looking for volunteers, and especially for this project to develop Three Pines Nature Place, noting that it would be the perfect project for an Eagle Scout candidate. For more information about the playground project, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.