On July 3, Erlton South Civic Association will hold a milestone parade to honor America – its 15th such celebration since reviving the holiday procession along Jefferson Avenue.
The neighborhood, which is tucked away between Route 70 to the north, Park Boulevard to the south, Kings Highway to the east and Grove Street to the west, is doing its part to continue a once long-standing tradition.
“Fifteen years ago, Eileen Tootle moved back to the neighborhood, and she wanted to resurrect the 4th of July parade that she knew here as a child from growing up. Back in the 1970s, her dad and a bunch of other dads in the neighborhood put on this parade every year,” said Susanne Bromke, president of the civic association.
“(It was) strictly in Erlton. I guess in the late 1970s or early 1980s it died out, but then she brought it back. She worked with some local retailers to help fund it and it was a huge success.
Bromke said the parade is almost entirely funded through neighborhood donations. The association has a Facebook page (a closed group for exclusive use of residents), she currently possesses about 200 email addresses for the 500 homes in the neighborhood for an email blast, and then there’s a newsletter that’s published four times a year that is hand-delivered. The neighborhood raises roughly $3,000 to $4,000 every year to put on the parade, and what isn’t used is placed back in the treasury to fund all the events throughout the year.
As for what residents and those from across the township and beyond can expect this year, “we’ll have (2019 Mummers first-prize winners) Quaker City String Band, we’ll have a bagpiper with drums, we’ll have antique cars from a regional antique automobile club. We have a dance troupe that performs, the police department and fire department show, usually members of township council come since we invite them every year,” Bromke said.
“I’m hoping that Eileen will be the grand marshal, but I have a backup person if she doesn’t…but I don’t want to spoil that (surprise).”
The parade is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Bromke recommends attendees arrive at least a half-hour before step-off, and park on all the side streets.
“It’s a short parade. It starts at one end of Jefferson and ends in the park. If they line up on Jefferson, before the park, they’ll be able to see the parade. I would say, from Harrison to Grant are the prime viewing spots. It ends in the park, and there’s a 20-minute concert by the string band, there’s a DJ and a moonbounce and Chick-fil-A will be there selling food, and Mister Softee will be there selling ice cream,” said Bromke.
The parade will begin at the triangle on the eastern end of Jefferson, shored up by Ladder 24’s fire truck, sporting Old Glory. Sarah Bromke, Susanne’s daughter, is scheduled to sing the national anthem. All festivities are scheduled to end by 8:30 p.m., so that interested parties can try to witness Haddonfield’s fireworks display, should it occur near the high school, and weather permitting.
“Now that fireworks are gone in Cherry Hill, it’s the only 4th of July celebration in the township. We want to get the word out and hopefully people from other neighborhoods will come and enjoy it,” Bromke added.
Rain date for the parade is scheduled to be Friday, July 5.
“I’m praying that we don’t have to move it to our rain date,” Bromke said, owing to the difficulty of recalling all the entertainment and getting a good turnout once the holiday weekend begins.