Collingdale celebrated the nation’s independence with its 125th annual Fourth of July Parade on Monday morning, with many of the residents, recent and longtime, reveling in the nostalgia and many now taking on the same roles as the previous generations.
At approximately 9 a.m. Collingdale’s parade began as nearly 100 motorcycles roared up MacDade Blvd., passing the crowd gathered along the sidewalk. Ten minutes later, an additional wave of bikers rolled through.
Shortly to follow was parade grand marshal and Collingdale Mayor Frank Kelly and his wife steering a horse-drawn carriage.
Kelly has served as Collingdale’s mayor for 46 years, making him the longest serving mayor in the nation and the longest-serving in Pennsylvania history.
Julie Ganley, a longtime resident, attended with her daughter, Casey Harrison, and 11-month old grandson, Issac Harrison, who was decked-out in patriotic gear.
“I love the parade every year,” Ganley said, adding that there was something “special” about the borough’s centennial parade.
“(Kelly) is a great mayor,” Ganley said of the veteran politician. “I grew up here in Collingdale, went to Collingdale High School with Kelly’s daughter.”
Ganley also recalled seeing Kelly around the community accompanied by a duo of Irish Setters.
Following Kelly’s old-time ride were community organizations, borough councilors and employees, the Collingdale Alumni Association, Collingdale first responders, borough residents, and various youth and church organizations who were met with waves from their fellow residents.
Among the biggest attractions were the themed-parade floats in which residents spent months constructing. The floats, many of which were patriotic with some residents playing Uncle Sam and historical figures such as Betsy Ross and George Washington, while others paid tribute to veterans.
For longtime resident John Lewis, the duty of judging the floats has been passed down to him from his mother. He shared the opportunity with his wife, Victoria Lewis.
“We are judging in honor of my mother who judged for many years,” Lewis said. “This year was by far the best; there was a lot of attention to detail in the costumes and characters.”
The criteria used to judge the floats, according to Lewis, are “originality, enthusiasm, and patriotic costumes.”
Tom Roy Smith, a Collingdale resident who relocated to Drexel Hill, played John Penn, grandson of William Penn and endorser of both the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence.
“I have been participating in the parade for 25 years dressed as John Penn,” said Smith, who was seen dancing on the sidelines.
Donna Spadea, a 30-year Collingdale resident and president of the Collingdale Athletic Club, was this year’s master of ceremonies, announcing the names of the organizations as they made their way up the boulevard toward Glenolden from the lower end of the borough.
“I’ve always participated in the parade through the Athletic Club, but this year I was nominated to be emcee,” Spadea said. “I enjoyed (the parade), the floats were my favorite part.”
Other residents, like Catherine Davis, a six-year resident, said this is her third year in attendance with her children, but was only recently told about the continuation of festivities at Collingdale Park.
“This year, we’re looking forward to the events at the park following the parade; they have fireworks and food and it’s all free for the kids,” Davis said.
The plethora of activities at Collingdale Park included a community cookout, live music, contests and games.