Every 4th of July for as long, as I’ve been coming to the North Fork, there has been a 4th of July parade in Polebridge. For months in advance, North Forkers start talking about what they’re going to do with their “float.” Float is in quotes because entries range from neighbors walking along holding banners to elaborate affairs constructed on flatbed trailers hauled by heavy duty trucks. All are welcome.
Anyway, folks get together over coffee and cake, beer, etc. and start to pick a theme. Sometimes this theme is local, sometime it takes on a national issue, and sometimes it’s just for fun. Regardless, there is a lot of effort expended in the coordination and construction of these floats.
On the day of the parade, people from all over the area start arriving early so that they can get a good seat (preferably in the shade) along the parade route, which is the approximately 1/2 mile long dirt road leading into Polebridge off the main North Fork road. Mind you, many of these people have driven 35 miles up a dusty dirt road in order to join the locals in this patriotic celebration. Chairs, umbrellas, food and drink break out. Everyone has a good time.
Along about mid morning, the judges are selected. Someone (I have no idea who) goes in among the crowd and asks onlookers at random whether they would like to be a judge. Those that agree are seated in a high stand at the corner so that they have a good view of the entire parade proceedings.
While the floats are getting organized and lined up, there is the reading of the Declaration of Independence by a series of local folks. This is accomplished with a bull horn and a great deal of lung power.
Promptly at noon, the parade begins. Each float walks, rides, or drives past the judges stand and on down the dirt road until the end.
Many of the entries have these wonderful routines that they stop and perform for the audience along the way. Here is the North Fork Drill Team.
And here are the folks selling the new North Fork Cookbook. “Buy our book!”
Many other floats throw candy to the kinds waiting on the side of the road. This is a big hit with young and old alike.
The entire parade turns around once it hits the North Fork road and walks down the complete length of the parade route again, stopping in front of the judges stand to do their chant, song or show. Here are some of the North Fork muscians.
Smokey the Bear was a big hit with the kids.
There are several locals that you can almost always count on being at or in the parade. Frank Vitale brings his mules almost every year.
And Duke Hoiland, long time North Fork resident, is always welcome to join the parade.
Everyone had a good time. Here are some more shots of the parade entries.
All of a sudden out of the blue we were buzzed by two WWII vintage prop planes. Who were those guys?
That’s it. The whole parade takes maybe 30 minutes or 45 if there are a lot of floats. Once it’s over, the judges make their pronouncement of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. This year the “Circus” float won first place and the “Drill Team” won second. Third place was won by the Northern Lights Saloon’s float. Special Honorable Mentions went to Animals: Frank’s Mule Team “Braying for Wilderness”; Children: the barrel train; Music: the bagpipers (thanks Becky for sending in the extra information).
Then the eating and drinking begins. This year, the Northern Lights Saloon cooked two pigs in a pit and had pulled pork BBQ and hot dogs serving out the back along with beer and music. Although I didn’t try the dogs, the pulled pork was excellent. We had to have a beer to wash it down. The Northern Lights also had some wonderful live blue grass music going on that was to continue well into the evening.
The new owners of Home Ranch Bottoms also has BBQ, sausage, and burgers as well as beer on offer. We tried both the brisket and pulled pork and they were excellent as well. Needless to say, we had to have another beer to wash it down.
At this point in the day, there were just too many choices. The Northern Lights had a huge crowd who partied late eating, drinking, and listening to the fine music. There was also a square dance at the Community Hall. It was a tough choice, but the NFNews team decided to opt for an old fashioned back yard party with family and friends. Watching the sun go down over the North Fork river with a fire and sparklers was the perfect way to end our North Fork 4th of July.