Fun on the Fourth

Photo by ANNA WALDRON A tiny float celebrates America’s favorite flower.

America’s 241st birthday is most definitely not forgotten in Amherst.

Hundreds of people viewed the town’s Fourth of July parade and attended the festivities on the town green that followed. Among the many marchers were a few who didn’t march but drove… in cars smaller than a go-cart.

The people who drive these mini cars are members of the Bektash Temple Mini Car Patrol who travel from “Montreal to Connecticut” on weekends.

Many people see them as fun guys who like driving around and getting in touch with their inner child, but they are actually driving for a reason.

“We have fun, but we’re not here just for fun,” said Bob Gilman, of the Bektash Temple Mini Car Patrol. The ‘non-fun’ is raising money for the Shriners’ burn care hospital in Boston, which specializes in children’s burn injuries. “Every dime goes to the hospital,” he said.

But they also recognize the impact that something as simple as riding in a mini car, and Gilman said the best part of the parade is the people.

Another group that marched was the Amherst Garden Club, which is celebrating its 47th year and takes care of 10 gardens across town.

The parade is the highlight of the summer, said member Joan Poltack, and the best part of the parade is its community spirit.

Since this is not an election year, there were not many politicians marching, but U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) was here, and she too emphasized the importance of the parade in unifying the community.

“Sometimes I’m here during an election year,” she said, “and I’ll see people of different political parties, but they’re all joining together to celebrate what our founders fought so hard for,” and it brings the community together and reminds us of what we have in common.

“I think this is a way of celebrating what makes us Americans … it’s our freedoms that unleash the talent and energy that makes us America.”

After the parade, everyone proceeded to the green where there were free balloon animals, homemade root beer, baseball speed testers, food vendors, speeches by community leaders, and finally the naming of this year’s citizen of the year, Cynthia Dokmo.

Dokmo is Amherst Citizen of the Year

Cynthia Dokmo was named the Amherst 2017 Citizen of the Year during ceremonies that followed the July Fourth parade.

Amherst Lions Club President Nate Jensen made the announcement, saying Dokmo has been a member of the community for more than 40 years and “contributed countless hours of service to Amherst, tirelessly in many roles.”

She served in the state Legislature for eight terms, and as a school board member and on the planning board and as moderator of the Souhegan Cooperative School District, president of the Share board of directors and the Milford Rotary Club and is one of the town’s cemetery trustees.

Dokmo joked that as a former a politician, she should “be talking for an hour,” but she kept it short.

“I think two of the most important things in people’s lives are their family and their community, and I have been blessed with a wonderful family, and I am so blessed to live in this wonderful community.”