Oneonta celebrates July Fourth

·3 min read

Jul. 4—Several hundred people gathered along Main Street, Oneonta to watch the Hometown Fourth of July parade Monday, July 4.

Children and adults were decked out in red, white and blue to celebrate the nation's birthday and enjoy an old fashioned parade. Most of the cars in the municipal parking lot were from the state, however, cars from Alabama, Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were also present, making the parade a well-attended event.

This year's parade was about 45 minutes long, was dedicated to David and Lois Brenner and was emceed by Doug Brenner. SUNY Oneonta President Alberto Cardelle was this year's grand marshal.

The Pindars Corners, West Oneonta and Unadilla volunteer fire departments had trucks in the parade and the City of Oneonta Fire Department's Ladder Truck was the parade's caboose. The parade was led by the Oneonta City Police.

In addition to the police and fire departments, which competed to see whose fire truck made the loudest siren, the parade featured several classic cars and community organizations and businesses marching or riding in the parade. Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution handed out American flags to children along the route. Children were able to snatch up lots of candy along the side of the street as it was tossed to them.

During the parade, several performances were held in front of the emcee's booth in front of Muller Plaza. Elite Dance Studio performed a dance routine to Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" and Harmony Martial Arts at demonstrated some martial arts moves. Mike the Juggler, DrumQuest and Cosmic Karma Fire, who were also going to perform at Neahwa Park also performed in front of the emcee booth to entice people to come to the park and enjoy the afternoon.

Many people followed the city of Oneonta Fire Department's ladder truck on foot down the sidewalks along South Main Street to Market Street. While the fire truck turned right, the pedestrians turned left to get to Neahwa Park and all of the events happening there.

The park was busy. Families and/or friends enjoyed picnics together with a blanket spread out under the shade trees or at picnic tables dotted throughout the park. People sat in chairs to watch performances at the stage area by the pond or the basketball court.

Children made sand art or got their face painted at different booths.

Sadie Ryan of New Jersey said she comes every year with her family to see her grandparents and they all come to the Hometown Fourth to have fun.

Stephanie Reed and her family from Schenevus said they come every year to watch the parade and go to the park. "The kids have a good time and so do we," she said.

Others made their way to the historic red caboose. The caboose is only open once a year for tours by the Greater Oneonta Historical Society and there was a line to get in for a tour.

The caboose has been at the park since 1924 and was built in Oneonta, Bob Brzozowski, a volunteer at GOHS, said. Brzozowski and Bhanu Gaur gave a history lesson about the caboose before people could enter.

"It's my first time going in myself," Gaur said. "I love it."

The caboose was the meeting room of eight men who started the Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen labor union at the Oneonta railyards in 1883, Gaur said. That labor union then became the Brotherhood of Trainmen then the United Transportation Union, he said.

"It all grew from this caboose," Gaur said.

The caboose was so important, the Smithsonian Institution wanted it moved to Washington, D.C., he said.

Brzozowski said between 200 and 400 people walk through the caboose every July 4. It was the first time it was open since 2019, he said.

The event, which ended with a fireworks display and after party, was presented by the city of Oneonta, Five Star Subaru and First Night Oneonta.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.