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Fourth of July: Golf carts roll through North Litchfield in record number

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

It was the longest parade North Litchfield has seen since the neighborhood started its annual Fourth of July children’s parade more than 28 years ago.

At least organizers said they think it was the longest. This was the first year anyone bothered to get an accurate count of how many golf carts participated in the event, so they can’t be certain, but the number usually hovers around 100, according to estimates.

There were 128 carts this year, plus plenty of walkers, cyclists and kids on skateboards, scooters and in wagons.

“I knew it had to be a lot,” said Joanne Craft, who watched the parade from a chair she set up in a shady spot in her driveway. “We’ve been here and watched it grow every year.”

There had to have been at least 600 people in the parade, according to Kitty Clay, its unofficial hostess.

Like every year, Clay set up a table in front of her home on Hanover Drive and cut up watermelon, which she and a small group of volunteers handed out along with lemonade to help participants in the parade fight off the heat. It was already 90 degrees by the time the parade wrapped up at about 10:40 a.m.

It’s an event some people — residents and annual visitors — look forward to year after year. Randy Gerber is among them. He always throws a big party at his house, where family and friends gather in the front yard to watch the parade. This year they had visitors from North Carolina and Ohio.

The parties have been a tradition since 2007 when the Gerbers moved into a house on Hanover.

They lived over on Bobcat Drive before that and Gerber remembers their first Fourth of July there, in 1997, when a neighbor told them about the parade. Gerber got some red, white and blue paper plates and decorated his 2-year-old son’s wagon with them. That year, he pulled the little boy in the wagon along the parade route. a

They upgraded to a golf cart a few years later, but by the time they moved, the family decided they’d rather be spectators, and they had a great view.

“But we’re very engaged spectators,” Gerber said.

He loves the North Litchfield parade because it reminds him of the Memorial Day parade he went to as a little boy growing up in a small town (population 525) in Ohio. “It has that same flavor.”

Julie Berly Ervin said her son, Will, 12, also got his start in the parade in a wagon when he was 2. He and his sister, Anna, 10, and cousin, Meredith Berly, 14, ride bikes in the parade now.

The Berly family likes the parade because they know most of the people involved, they love watching the kids have fun and it’s convenient, lining up right in front of their home.

“And it’s tradition,” Julie said. “We never miss a tradition.”

Jim and Pat Gray, who have a second home on Hanover, said they went to the Pawleys Island parade once years ago.

“But this is a family parade and we have grandchildren now,” Jim said, explaining why he prefers the one in North Litchfield. They absolutely love it.”

“It would be nice to do more than one parade, but you’ve got to pick one” said Mary Lee Venuti, who lives on Cockle Shell Court. She and her husband, John, always pick North Litchfield. Samantha Homan, 19, who helped them decorate their cart, said she’s glad. “I like this one,” she said. “I’ve done this one since I was a kid.” She hopes to keep up the tradition for years to come.

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