Independence Day inspires many neighborhood residents to line up and march

Ok, so we all know and love the Lakewood Fourth of July parade. And what’s not to love? Kids dressed in costume, loads of candy flung through the air and, usually, at least one Elvis impersonator on roller blades.

But there are other, less talked about neighborhood parades that happen every year at this time as well. Case in point: the sister neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Little Forest Hills.

“It’s kind of like Lakewood, just on a smaller scale,” says Jill Strauss, who’s organizing the Forest Hills Fourth of July Parade this year. “Tons of bikes and kids and cars. We give prizes for best float, most creative, that kind of thing.”

The same is pretty much true of the Little Forest Hills parade, says resident Sylvia Williams, who, along with Susan Remele and Lynn Reagan, is organizing their neighborhood parade for the second year.

In fact, Williams adds, their shindig was pretty much inspired by Lakewood’s. “I was at that parade, and I thought, ‘Why don’t we have our own?'”

Their inaugural effort last year was so successful that they’re planning on making it a tradition. “Everybody got real excited about it, and we got a lot of positive feedback from parents,” Williams says. “It’s a wonderful activity for parents to get involved with their kids.”

Unlike LFH, however, the Forest Hills parade has been going on for “quite a while,” Strauss says, though she’s not sure exactly how long. The highlight of that event, she adds, is really the after-parade party that happens every year at the home of Jack Keller, of Keller’s hamburgers.

“The parade ends at his estate on Garland Road, and there are burgers, hot dogs, a bounce house for the kids,” Strauss says.

In fact, almost everyone agrees that these parades are really for the kids, or, perhaps more precisely, the kid in all of us. Williams and Remele dressed as Statues of Liberty last year, and Williams’ husband posed as Uncle Sam.

They’re looking forward to just as much fun this year. After the two-block-long route, which will be grand marshaled by Councilman Gary Griffith, they’ll all converge at Casa Linda Park, where they’ll enjoy watermelon and drinks and possibly a band.

It’s a tradition, Williams adds, that she hopes to continue for some time to come.

“Now Little Forest Hills has their own show,” she says proudly. “It’s a lot of fun…very impromptu. I’m hoping it’ll be bigger this year and even more fun.”

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