Fourth attendance dips with many still reeling from weather havoc

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Galloway Police Explorers prepare for traffic detail. From left are Zak Karaisz, an Absegami senior; Matt Burd, a junior at Absegami; and Nicholas McGloin, who will be a freshman at LaSalle.

GALLOWAY – Support of religious organizations for the annual Fourth of July Parade was rewarded Wednesday, July 4 when three of them took top prizes in the best float contest.

Mainland Baptist Church took first place. Second place went to Holy Spirit High School and the third-place winner was Highland Community Church.

Mainland Baptist moved up one position after finishing second in 2011 with more than 100 marchers, banners, floats and buses.

The other two winners from 2011 were also religion-based floats: Assumption Regional Catholic School won and the Emmaus Oceanville United Methodist Church with Boy Scout Troop 77 took third a year ago.

This year’s best design and craftsmanship award went to Smithville Community Church. The Pleasantville High School Band was judged most entertaining. The most patriotic entry came from Oyster Creek Inn.

The Riddlesbrood Theatre Company was picked as most original. Most enthusiastic was Smitty’s Super Foodtown. Best costumes went to

the Columbian Hispanic Association.

The Judges’ Choice Award went to Paul and Jen Schairer.

For the first time in many years the parade failed to set new records for entries and attendance.

"The weather scared some people off," parade President Richard Maxwell said. "We had a record number of entries, but a lot of people didn’t show up."

He didn’t have an exact count of participants, but it was in the neighborhood of 150 units.

While attendance jumped from 8,000 in 2010 to 10,000 in 2011, this year it may have dropped even below the 8,000 mark of a year ago.

A thunderstorm blew through Galloway some two hours before the parade Wednesday.

People are a little skittish about thunderstorms after the area was struck by a derecho early Saturday, June 30 that still left many without power on Wednesday.

"It’s not just some people," said Mayor Don Purdy, who owns and operates an auto repair business. "I had all the cars brought inside overnight. You don’t want to take any chances."

One group not taking chances on more rain during the morning’s oppressive heat were the bicycle riders. Only five entered – and all five won ribbons and cash prizes.

MacKenzie Gregory, 4, of the Smithville section of Galloway took the prize for the up to 4-year-old age group.

Dakota Palumbo, 10, won top prize in the 8-12 age group. Second place was a tie between identically dressed sisters, Chloe, 8, and Elyssa Griffith, 10. All three are from Galloway.

Morgan Gregory, 9, of the Smithville section of Galloway, took third place in the category.

The parade started at 9 a.m. in humid heat at the Smithville Town Center, where staging had started at 8 a.m. It went west on Smithville Boulevard to Moss Mill Road where it turned right, heading east on Moss Mill into the Village Green at Historic Smithville.

The grand marshal was retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Pat Hughes who lives in the Four Seasons at Smithville community.

July 4 Parade Committee members are President Rich Maxwell, Vice President Mike DiLullo, Jackie Maxwell, Michael Brandenberger, Jennifer Hahn, Tony Coppola Sr., Kathy Hewson, Shawn O’Brien, Beth Stasuk, Jennifer Diluzio, Bob Adamo, Linda Hart, Rich Hart, Candy Brenner, Paul Orecchia, Ike Rucker, Phil Uecker, Jan Jorgensen, Ron Neeld, John Rodney, Nancy Rodney, John W. Mooney, Marty Russell and Roger Wolcott.
Volunteer Steve Crofton with parade cofounder Isaac “Ike” Rucker. Parade organization President Rich Maxwell delivers a message before the event starts. From left are American Legion State Commander Gene O’Grady, Legion historian Bob Padavano and Legion Master at Arms Tom Covello. All are from Barnegat. Absecon American Legion Post 28 prepares to march. From left are Eric Lowy, Jack Komorowski, Post Commander Archie Rinaldo, Walter Krouse, Henry “Chip” Higbee, Rich Valenti, Bill Brennan, Phil Hallman, Tom Crawford, Doug Hand, Paul Steinhauer and Robert “Dino” Martin. Lorenzo Borden of Absecon American Legion Post 28 prepares to drive in the Galloway parade. Marco Barrios with South Egg Harbor Neighborhood Watch vehicle. Richard Allen LaLena, Historic Smithville’s town crier, prepares to march. Friends line up to watch the parade near the judges’ booth. From left are Joe Brown of Galloway, Art and Sue Kurtz of Port Republic, and Marsha Brown, Mary Boris, Lynn White and Lorranie Gicas, all of Galloway. Paul and Colleen Berenotto of Buena lead Rolling Thunder in front at the parade. Parade Judges and TV40 personalities Michelle Dawn Mooney and Dan Skeldon. Rachael Hawn, a freshman at Cedar Creek High School, attends the parade with her grandmother Rose Richardson and 2-year-old Shih Tzu Emma. All are from Port Republic. Galloway Police Capt. Allan Kane. Angelo Rabonesi of Galloway holds up a thank you note passed to him by a girl in the parade.

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