‘A celebration of being an American,’ Merrimack marks July 4th

Tweets continue to extol the hundreds of families who turned out to see the town’s Fourth of July parade – a vivid show of Independence Day pride that paid little regard to tropical temps.

The parade left The Commons shopping center across from the town’s post office and headed for a traditional destination – Merrimack High School on McElwain Street.

Kevin Knowles, a veteran of the Air Force and longtime Merrimack resident whose father was an Army medic, called the day a “celebration of being an American.”

“We should be thinking of each other today, how we can help each other,” Knowles added. “This holiday is for honoring our country.”

The parade and many other activities were backed by the Town of Merrimack, the Rotary Club of Merrimack and the Merrimack Road Runners Boosters Club. Dozens of businesses and other sponsors added support.

Merrimack Parks and Recreation Department Director Matt Casparius praised all who made the goings-on a stunning success. He said 800 bottles of water were relief for parched parade marchers as they traveled Daniel Webster Highway and Baboosic Lake Road.

“It’s certainly great to see the turnout in weather like this,” Casparius said. “It’s tradition – you have to come!”

Dozens of patriotic tunes presented in Abbie Griffin Park, on Baboosic Lake Road, comprised a Holiday Concert on July 3. The Merrimack Concert Association’s band and chorus drew an audience in the evening of 225 who lounged in folding chairs or sat on blankets.

Athletes of all skill levels attended the 21st annual Sparkler 5K Road Race. The fundraiser and a kids’ fun run, hosted by the Merrimack Roadrunners Boosters Club, benefiting track and cross country programs at the high school and middle school. Runners left the Merrimack branch of the YMCA of Greater Nashua and 375 jogged, or raced, or walked down Henry Clay Drive. The winding route thereafter was shielded from traffic by Merrimack police and many volunteers.

Volunteer Don Provencher, a Merrimack businessman whose wife, Linda, currently is the Booster Club secretary and a go-getter at fundraising, was posted at the run’s start. He called the event a “nice way for those who stay in town on the Fourth to come out and enjoy their community.”

The annual Pancake Breakfast hosted by the Rotary Club of Merrimack at Merrimack High raised some funds for charity and scholarships. Volunteers cooked around 500 pancakes served with scrambled eggs, sausage and orange juice. Gluten-free waffles and pancakes from Bite Me Kupcakez in Merrimack were introduced to high acclaim at the event.

Rotary Club President Mike Hoover said the breakfast is a tradition for some who anticipate staying for other nearby July Fourth activities. The Aponte family, of Merrimack, concurred after their first enjoyment of the fare that they will come again, next year.

“Some stay for the parade, which runs into Family Fun Day, which runs into the fireworks display,” Hoover said. “It’s a complete day of fun and friendship.”

The Family Fun Day, hosted nearby drew hundreds to an afternoon that featured food vendors, a dunk tank and an art contest, along with tunes from DJ David Roy, local performers and dozens of other family-friendly diversions.

The 125th anniversary of the Merrimack Library was saluted with a theme of “Libraries Rock.” Yvette Couser, director, invited to the parade a premier tribute band: Blues Brothers the Next Generation. Marchers from the library mostly wore Blues Brothers’ black in recognition. Couser and her husband, Jonathan, donning black hats and sunglasses, did some dancing along the route to “Soul Man,” and other hits.

Folks staking out seating at the grand finale of fireworks ending the Fourth of July celebration bought souvenir trinkets and shared funnel cake at the second annual DJ Darren Roy Fourth of July Parking Lot Party in the high school’s parking lot.

Anni and Pete Giacapuzzi, of Merrimack, residents for 32 years, said the day’s parade and its wealth of family-friendly attractions “bring the community together for a nice day.”