South Jersey is home to a variety of rich neighborhood traditions. Here are the details for this upcoming Independence Day weekend.
By Matt Skoufalos
Every Fourth of July weekend, the historic communities of Camden County revive annual traditions from pool parties to parades to fireworks displays. We’ve tried to compile the most up-to-date, comprehensive list of celebrations in our readership area, including start times, rain dates, and other information. Here’s what we’ve got.
At 8:30 a.m. on July 4, the borough salutes its first responders with an Independence Day parade themed “Service, Sacrifice, and Strength.” From the Audubon Celebrations Committee:
Audubon’s First Responders are the backbone of our community. We post their phone numbers on our refrigerators because we rely on them to help us in an emergency. We will never know of all the times they have faced life-threatening situations or endured life-altering experiences. They are our heroes in times of crisis.”
The Audubon Fire Department will waste no time in giving back to the community with its open house from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Visitors can enjoy fire engine rides, free hot dogs, water ice, soda, and beer.
At 11 a.m., the Audubon High School football field opens for athletic events, and then again at 7:30 p.m. with live music and a presentation of prizes from the town-wide parade. Fireworks will start just after dark.
At 10 a.m. on July 4, Collingswood kicks off its celebrations with a salute to military veterans. Led by the Tatem Shields Post 17 American Legion, the event will be held at the Harrison Avenue entrance to Knight Park.
Hosted this year by Bike Up Collingswood, the ride starts at 10 a.m. at the intersection of West Zane and Haddon Avenues, concluding at the Harrison Avenue entrance to Knight Park, where Mister Softee will be provided for all participants by Tatem Shields Post 17. Helmets are required for all riders, and although the event is non-competitive, stroller and bike decorating is highly encouraged.
Throughout the day, the Proud Neighbors of Collingswood will judge homes and businesses participating in its annual decorating contest. Collingswood Cash, the borough town-wide gift certificate, will be awarded for the most creative, original, and “overall best look” properties, as well as those that show the most “appropriateness to architecture” and the “best historic home.” E-mail July4@ProudNeighborsOfCollingswood.org with your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address to participate.
Finally, at 6:30 p.m., Collingswood High School opens its gates for its Fourth of July spectacular, punctuated by the Party Wave Band at 8 p.m. and fireworks at 9:15. Once again, Knight Park will be closed to vehicle traffic, as it was in 2014.
Haddonfield will hold its Fourth of July fireworks celebration at the Haddonfield Memorial High School stadium on Friday, July 3.
Gates open at 6 p.m. with fireworks slated for dusk. The rain date is Saturday, July 11.
At 9:30 a.m. the following morning, the historic Indian King Tavern will host a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence as part of a day-long historic celebration.
The tavern will be open until 3 p.m., offering tours and an informal public discussion about the life of Revolutionary War soldiers.
The traditional borough Fourth of July parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday; it runs along Kings Highway, starting at Chestnut Street.
Haddon Heights celebrates Independence Day with a 9 a.m. parade that runs along Station Avenue from 2nd Avenue, around 10th Avenue, and concludes in Hoff ’s Park at the end of High Street with a post-parade party.
A baby parade starts at Sycamore and 10th from 8:45 to 9:15 a.m., joining the full parade after. The post-parade party runs until 12 with face-painting, inflatables, and refreshments.
Preceding the parade at 8 a.m. is the annual Firecracker 5K. Click here for registration information.
The annual Haddon Township fireworks display will be held at the Haddon Township High School football stadium at 7 p.m. on July 3. Guests will enjoy live music, inflatable bounce amusements, and the opportunity to purchase refreshments. Fireworks will start at dusk with a July 5 rain date.
Then, at 11:30 a.m. on July 4, the township will hold its annual Fourth of July parade, which starts at the municipal building and ends at the Crystal Lake Pool. The best bands, floats, fire trucks, pets, and patriotic bikes will win prizes.
After the parade, the pool will be open to the public until 6 p.m. for water races, games, crafts, food, and entertainment. The first 750 guests will enjoy free hot dogs and soda.
On Thursday, July 2, the Oaklyn Civic Association will judge “the most patriotic home” in the borough.
Then, on Saturday, July 4, Oaklyn will hold its annual Fourth of July parade at 10 a.m.; this year’s theme is “Oaklyn seniors are the heart of our community.”
Decorated bikes and strollers are invited to meet in the parking lot of the Oaklyn Manor bar at 9:50 a.m.
The parade concludes at the Oaklyn Public School with free hot dogs and soda. Food and monetary donations will also be collected for the borough food pantry.
Perhaps the largest Fourth of July celebration in the region will happen at Wiggins Waterfront Park in Camden City, where the county freeholders will host the third annual Freedom Festival and fireworks display starting at 5 p.m. on July 4.
The festival includes performances by the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey, Sister Sledge, and Blood, Sweat and Tears (featuring Bo Bice of American Idol fame). Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.
Children will enjoy jugglers, face-painting, and inflatable bounce amusements; adults can visit a beer garden with spirits from local brewers, distillers and vineyards.
Free event parking along the waterfront will be available from 4 p.m.
On July 5, Camden County hosts its Military Appreciation Day, with discounted admission to the Adventure Aquarium and the Battleship New Jersey; the latter is free to active military, World War II veterans, and former USS New Jersey crewmembers.
Finally, the county “reminds all Camden County residents that the 911 system is for emergency calls only” and that “dispatchers are not able to inform residents of the locations and times of fireworks displays in their area.”