Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pelham's Celebration of Independence Day in 1910

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There certainly was something special about Pelham's Fourth of July celebration in 1910. For whatever reason, the pageantry was more extensive than most years. The celebration was better documented than almost any in the history of the Town. The crowds that watched the parade were quite large. On this Fourth of July, 2005 when our nation celebrates the 229th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it seems fitting to reminisce about the pageantry and beauty of the Town's celebration 95 years ago.

Photograph of Pelham's Independence Day Parade in 1910.
The Independence Day Celebration was sponsored under the auspices of the Pelham Village Club, a social club located in the Village of Pelham in the early 20th century. The day began quite early with a 4:30 a.m. "Sunrise Salute of 21 Guns".
The highlight of the day was a grand parade. According to the program for the event, the line of march was as follows: "March on Esplanade to Boston Road; to Pelhamdale Ave., to Manor Lane, to Pelham St., past new High School; to Manor Lane to Pelhamdale Ave., to Witherbee Ave., to Highbrook Ave., past Pelham Heights School to Boulevard to Wolf's Lane, to 5th Ave., North Pelham to 2nd St., to 3rd Ave., to 3rd St., to 2nd Ave., past the 'Reviewing Stand' on 4th St., and disband."
The "Orator of the Day" was the Honorable William Sulzer. Among the many groups that marched were the Fife and Drum Corps of the Fire Department, Liberty Engine and Hose Compmpany No. 1, the Fife and Drum Corp of Relief Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 and the Fife and Drum Corps of Iroquois Tribe, No. 476 - Imp'd O.R.M.
The parade began at 10:00 a.m. The crowds reportedly were large. The program at the reviewing stand was as follows:
"Overture - Orchestra.
Song - God Bless our Native Land - Chorus.
Reading Declaration of Independence - Hon. Chas G. F. Wahle.
Song - Hail Columbia - Chorus.
The American Flag; Rodman Drake - Miss Lulu Young.
Song - Star Spangled Banner - Chorus.
Oration - Hon. William Sulzer.
Song - O God our Help in Ages Past - Chorus."
The day included athletic events at 2:00 p.m. There were track events as well as field events. The events were closed to residents of Pelham and included a 100 yard dash, a 220 yard run, a 440 yard run, a pole vault, a standing broad jum, a shot put (12 lbs.), a "7 obstacle race" and a sack race. There also was a "Fat Man's Race" and events for boys under the age of 16 including a 100 yard dash, a shot put (8 lbs.) and a 220 yard run. Other events included a "shoe race", a "ladies' race, 75 yards", a tug of war between Relief Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1 and Liberty Engine and Hose Company, No. 1, a girls' race (75 yard dash) and a potato race.
While these athletic events may have made for a full day, there were more such events: an 880 yard run, a one mile run, a two mile run, a running broad jump, a running high jump and a "hop, step and jump".
At 8:00 p.m. that evening there was a town-wide dance held at the Pavillion on 4th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues with the 10th Regiment Band (W. D. Craig, Bandmaster). At 9:00 p.m. there was an intermission during which a fireworks celebration was held. The dance then continued until the wee hours of the morning.
Pelham certainly celebrated the day grandly and likewise will celebrate the nation's "birthday" for many, many, many more years!
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