Hinesburg adjusts July 4 festivities to include Fire Department’s anniversary

It may only be March, but planning for the Fourth of July is well under way in Hinesburg, where this year’s festivities recently were stretched to span five days in order to celebrate both the key summer holiday and the Hinesburg Volunteer Fire Department’s 75th anniversary.

Independence Day in Hinesburg traditionally is a two-day affair with a foot race on July 3 and a full day of activities on July Fourth, including a parade and fireworks along with a book sale, live music and plenty of food. This year, the fire department hoped for something slightly different.

In a recent Front Porch Forum post, Andrew Driver, president of the Hinesburg Firemen’s Association, notified residents that the town and fire department planned to hold both the parade and the 75th anniversary celebration on Saturday, June 30 so that surrounding mutual aid departments could take part. Keeping the parade on the Fourth was likely to pose conflicts with neighboring fire crews; because they eagerly drop everything to assist when there is a local fire call, organizers wanted as many other departments as possible to participate in the parade.

The Firemen’s Association checked with the Recreation Commission to make sure the change of plans would work and got the thumbs up. At the Feb. 5 Selectboard meeting, Frank Twarog, who chairs the Recreation Commission, explained that they had already planned for two years to change the 2018 Independence Day celebration plans.

The idea of celebrating July Fourth in June didn’t go over well with some residents, who aired their frustrations on Front Porch Forum and to town officials. While many Vermont communities schedule their celebrations either on or soon before the holiday, many in Hinesburg like the tradition of festivities on the actual holiday.

Parks and Recreation Coordinator Jennifer McCuin said that while emotions and frustrations ran high during those few weeks of conflict, a compromise has been reached: a new celebration dubbed “Old Home Week.”

While some tweaking may be needed, festivities are planned to begin on June 30 and end on the Fourth of July, McCuin said. On June 30, the “United We Stand” parade will start at 11 a.m. and the Fire Department’s celebration will run to about 3 p.m.

The other usual events will be spread out over the next few days including the annual Hilly Hobble Foot Race, the craft fair, historical walks through the village and more. The traditional fireworks finale will still happen at dusk on the Fourth at at Bissonette Fields .

“I am pleased to see that after much passionate dialogue and discussion in response to the changes to the July 4th celebration this year…our theme of United We Stand is especially meaningful,” McCuin said.

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