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Old-fashioned fun on tap for Harvard’s Fourth of July

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HARVARD — Looking for some good, old-fashioned fun for the family on Fourth of July? Harvard has just what you’re looking for.

So, grab the kids and the sunblock and head to the field in front of the town library.

The celebration kicks off at 11 a.m. with an Independence Day parade, led by Grand Marshal Lois Watt, featuring more than 50 antique cars, floats and an assortment of town groups marching.

Along with Watt, the parade will honor students from the elementary and Bromfield Schools and two citizens of note, Robert Lerner and William Ashe.

“After the parade ends, we have the flag-raising ceremony,” Fourth of July Committee Chairman Kathy Farrell said. “We’ll have people singing and playing different music. Kathy Bruele will be singing then the Nashoba Valley Band plays followed by, new this year, the Bromfield A Cappella singers.”

Even before the parade gets underway, the antique cars will be on display on the common, where they will be judged for first, second and third place. The floats will have their own judging on Depot Road.

Kids can also enter a competition, for decorated bicycles. The Fourth of July Committee will be awarding prizes for the most creative, most patriotic and most humorous.

“The (bicycle) judging is at 10:30 sharp,” Farrell said. “All the kids will get a free ice cream from the Lions Club just for entering.”

If the parade and flag ceremony aren’t reasons enough to attend Harvard’s “Fields of Green” celebration, how about the traditional pie-eating contest?

“This is really one of the biggest events we have,” Farrell said. “We have all age groups, from little kids all the way to adults. You should see how competitive the adult contest gets.”

The fun doesn’t stop there.

There will be games and activities throughout the day including a greased pole, a duck pond for the little kids, potato sack races and three-legged races.

“This year our new thing we’re featuring is we hired a professional face painter,” Farrell said. “Francis Junget will be at the registration tent from 12 to 3 p.m., which the committee paid for so it’s free for the kids.”

No need to pack a lunch or snacks. The Lions Club will be on hand selling hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks and this year they’re going to have an ice cream truck at the event as well.

If that’s not enough, head down to the town beach where the kids can bob for apples, dive for candy, participate in the water balloon toss and many more events.

Farrell has been on the committee for four years, chairing for the last two, and loves the atmosphere Harvard creates on the holiday.

“The first year on the committee, first year I attended the event, I thought it was great,” she said. “It’s just really nice. It really feels like a town. You’re all together and everybody’s there and you really feel like everyone is there. There’s only one other event in town that brings everyone together and that’s town meeting. That’s different because it’s serious. Fourth of July is all about having a great day and lots of fun.”

The festivities actually kicked off last Saturday night, with a Fourth of July music festival and fireworks display featuring Harvard bands Still River, October Surprise and Bare Hill.

“It went very, very well,” Farrell said. “It looked like it was going to rain all night, but it didn’t rain until after the fireworks were done.”

The rain may have stayed away, but unfortunately the fog didn’t.

“It was a very interesting fireworks display,” Farrell said. “It was more of a colored sky. It was kind of funky, but you couldn’t see the actual fireworks.”

The town doesn’t pay for the Fourth of July events, since it’s up to the committee to raise the funds.

“The town gives us zero dollars,” Farrell said. “Our committee is entirely funded from the sales of the T-shirts and glow sticks and, of course, private donations. Our budget is around $15,000.”

The biggest expense the committee pays for is the fireworks.

“We try to get everyone to donate their time and services,” Farrell said. “Then we try to raise $15,000 every year. It’s a really big number so we really need to sell our T-shirts to keep (the celebration) at the level it’s been for the upcoming years.”

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