The 4th of July parade: an ivory tradition

By Rita Christopher / • 06/29/2021 1:20 PM EST

If it’s July 4th, there must be a parade down Main Street in Ivorton. At least for 14 years, there have been. This year marks the 15th year of the march.

The parade will depart at 10 a.m. and will descend Main Street from Ivoryton to Ivoryton Green on Sunday July 4th. And why would a July 4th parade be held on another day? This year, because the 4th falls on a Sunday, the federal holiday is Monday July 5th.

“We wanted it the fourth,” said Cotty Barlow, who, along with Lorraine Donovan, is one of the parade’s co-chairs.

The marching groups, according to Donovan, include a fifes and drums orchestra, a military contingent and an Irish dancer group. Dancers will perform on Ivoryton Green when the parade arrives there. Other contingents include volunteer firefighters, the Essex Town Ambulance Team, the Essex Garden Club, the Ancient Order of Essex Weeders, the Essex Historical Society, the Ivoryton Playhouse, the Ivoryton Library and the Valley Regional Cheerleaders. Donovan says the list is still not complete and that she hopes to hear from several other groups.

Despite being the emblem of another season, Santa Billy, who has strong ties to Ivoryton when not at the North Pole, will also be in the parade and on a vehicle that is not usually associated with Santa Claus: a motorbike.

The Community Music School’s New Horizons Band, under the direction of Patricia Hurley, will not be parading but, seated in the gazebo on Ivoryton Green, will play selections of patriotic music.

In addition to the walkers, there will be classic vehicles including cars, trucks and tractors.

Vintage car owners don’t have to register in advance, but head to the Ivoryton July 4th Parade from 10:00 a.m. on Ivoryton Main Street. The July 4th ceremonies follow on Ivoryton Green. Vehicles meet at 9:30 am on Cheney Street.

The Ivoryton Parade also welcomes young people, who are encouraged to decorate their bikes and follow the march line. Walkers and bikes meet at 9:30 am at the bottom of Mill Race Reserve and Walnut Street.

And there are still other ways to be in the parade. Animals, properly tethered, are always welcome.

“Dogs on a leash are fine as long as their owners clean up after them,” Barlow said.

There was an even bigger cleaning problem: the miniature horses that were once a popular attraction in the parade. They are no longer part of the festivities.

“Cleaning up after them was a real problem,” Barlow said.

There is sad news about the animal stars on the parade. Barlow said the walking pig that was a popular attraction for several years has died.

Susan Beckman of Ivorton volunteered to relaunch the parade a decade and a half ago after learning that a group that previously oversaw the event could no longer do so. Along with Co-Chairs Barlow and Donovan, Chris Shane, Loretta Mccluskey and Jim Francis form the parade committee.

Free parade parking is available at several locations: the field in front of the Ivoryton Playhouse; Private Swiss on Route 154 and along Ivory Street on the same side of the street as Gather. Ivory Street parking is new this year.

“Free parking signs will be installed. It’s huge for the village going forward, ”noted Shane of the Ivory Street parking lot.

Still, Barlow said many spectators do exactly what the marchers will do: walk to the parade.

The Ivoryton July 4th Parade begins at 10:00 am on Ivoryton Main Street on Sunday July 4th. July 4th ceremonies follow on Ivoryton Green. Vehicles meet at 9:30 am on Cheney Street. Walkers and bikes meet at 9:30 am at the bottom of Mill Race Reserve and Walnut Street. Vehicles meet at the bottom of Cheyney Street, also at 9:30 a.m.