SUMMIT, NJ — Summit’s 74th annual Fourth of July celebration began on Sunday, July 4, with a flag-raising ceremony at noon at Soldiers Memorial Field. The day was busy with bands, food trucks and games, as well as a children’s decorated-bicycle parade and a grand fireworks display. Event organizer David Guida said he couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out.
“We opened all of our bounce houses,” said Guida on Sunday, July 4. “We have 12 food trucks here, three nonprofit vendors, 10 bounce houses and also carnival games. We have four concerts throughout the day: three bands — one rock n’ roll, one oldies, one pop — and then one children’s concert. And then we end the night with fireworks.
“Obviously, post-COVID, things are very different, and this is kind of our new normal,” he continued. “We used to do a two-part event, where there was a morning session and an afternoon session. This year, we combined the two. We didn’t eliminate any parts of the event. In fact, we added more concerts and more entertainment, and we’re going straight through. The bike parade route was longer, and, so far, it’s been a huge success. Everyone’s having a great time, and I think it’s a home run….
“I think, compared to what we normally get at the morning events, we have more than we typically would have.… So far, I’d say we’ve had at least 7,000 to 8,000 people. By the end of the night, we’ll probably have 15,000 to 20,000 people here.”
Summit Fire Department Deputy Chief Don Nelson also praised the event and said he had encouraged everyone to attend.
“Today, we’re celebrating our Fourth of July festivities. We didn’t have one last year because of COVID, as we all know,” Nelson said on Sunday, July 4. “It’s a beautiful day, and, if you’re available, come on down and watch the fireworks at 9 o’clock. But we’re just celebrating the Fourth of July and honoring what the day stands for. So far, things have been running smoothly. Compared to last year, it’s much better to be outside, and I see everybody out. We’ve got some concerts going on, some food trucks, rides for the kids — it’s great and it’s fantastic to be out here.
“The last time we had fireworks, I believe it was between 6,000 to 8,000 people, so, hopefully, we’ll have that much tonight. Next year, I’m hoping for good weather, great people, good food and another smooth program,” he added.
Parks and Recreation foreman Tony D’Angelo was involved in setting up the Showmobile portable stage for concerts to take place and said things were even easier to set up this year than in previous years.
“We set up the Showmobile, we set up the snow fence, monitored the garbage and, when everything is over, we break everything down when everything is ending,” D’Angelo said on Sunday, July 4. “The event is fantastic so far and the weather is nice. We thought there would be a lot more people here, but everything is going smoothly. For the fireworks, I think there’s going to be a lot more people. I think we’re the only town in the area that’s doing it. We always get a big crowd and everyone’s orderly. We have light towers, so we’re all set up.
“Normally, we have a separate event in the morning over there and we move over. This is a lot easier,” he continued. “We’d normally have to move the Showmobile twice and, usually, it’s parked down there, and we’d have to pack everything up and then reassemble it, so this was done at the end of the week last week. It was actually a little easier on our part. Everything is contained and in one spot. Everything is going great.”
Anita Romano, one of the owners of Summit-based food vendor Anita’s Baked Wonders, sold freshly baked Argentinian empanadas at the Fourth of July event and estimated she had more than 300 customers.
“Selling our freshly baked empanadas was our way of bringing a little bit of our country to the USA,” Romano said on Sunday, July 4. “We have several different flavors, and they’re all baked, not fried. We had a lot of customers.…
“We’re so excited to see everyone finally come out and enjoy themselves,” she continued. “I think it’s their first public appearance, so everyone is trying to enjoy themselves and you can see it in their faces. Everyone is happy to be here and are grateful that we’re all out here, offering our products. We only have great things to say, and the Summit community has been so nice to us.”
Jenn Jaskula, one of the owners of the carnival game 19-Gun Vertical Race, said the Pokemon-themed game required gamers to shoot water into a Poke Ball–themed target, racing a plush toy Pikachu to the top. The first to reach the top wins a prize.
“We’re here celebrating with Summit Community Programs with our inflatables and our 19-Gun Vertical Race,” Jaskula said on Sunday, July 4. “Today, they’ve probably had … almost 500 winners and more than 1,000 children.… The winners win a small prize. Summit Community Programs supplied a very small prize for the winner.
“We love this event,” she continued. “This is one of our favorite events that we do with our recreation departments in our communities.”
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman