Patriotic spirit highlights annual Bay Head bike parade

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Emma Andersen [left] rode her decorated bike, leading Addie Andersen [right], aka “Lady Liberty,” in her chariot in the back at Bay Head’s annual Fourth of July bike parade. (MARK R. SULLIVAN/THE OCEAN STAR)

BAY HEAD — Bay Head let freedom ring — with bicycle bells —  at the borough’s third annual Fourth of July Bike Parade on Sunday.

Nearly 200 children and their families donned themselves in red, white and blue, with many dressed in crazy costumes for Bay Head’s holiday parade, which has quickly blossomed into one of the borough’s most popular summertime traditions.

The impeccable weather only added to the patriotic festivities which made for a “fantastic day,” according to Bay Head Mayor William Curtis.

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“Oh my gosh, what a fantastic day. The police, the fire department did a superb job. Everyone was cooperative and the children really loved it,” the mayor told The Ocean Star.

“[The bike parade] was so wanted by people. They all wanted to be together,” he said. “I think it’s a tradition that we need to keep and I’m pretty sure the council will agree on how great it was.”

At 10:30 a.m. sharp on July 4, over 180 paraders took off from Sacred Heart Church on Main Avenue before traveling north on Clayton and Lake avenues. They then took a left on Bridge Avenue before turning into the municipal lot and finishing in Centennial Park, where music and for the first time an ice cream truck awaited them.

The parade is organized by Bay Head Life, which formed three years ago with the goal of organizing “fitness and wellness-oriented” community events in the borough, according to co-chair Sarah Erbe.

Ms. Erbe said that this year’s parade got the whole community involved, including residents who lived along the parade route shouting support and waving American flags.

“We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to have a parade,” she said. “We had an amazing turnout in the parade, but also lining the parade route. It truly felt like the entire town came together to celebrate our nation’s independence.”

Last year amid the pandemic, Bay Head opted to go forward with the parade, however participation was capped at 150 people and masks and social distancing were mandatory. This year, the parade was able to return to normal.

“It was definitely more comfortable being without masks since it was a hot day,” Ms. Erbe said. 

“The nature of being on bikes still created some distance between groups when prepping for the start of the parade which I found to be helpful. Anyone that felt the need to wear a mask was certainly allowed and encouraged to do so.”

The support and response from participants as well as the greater community was “overwhelmingly positive,” making for a great family-friendly event hanging out in the park even after the parade ended.

“We had an overwhelmingly positive response to this year’s parade which makes all the hard work we do as volunteers putting this together all worth it. The parade route was lined with patrons waving flags and cheering us on,” she said. “Families gathered together in our park when the parade was over enjoying their ice cream and playing on the playground.”

Awards were given out to three families with the best decorated bicycles. This year’s winners were:

  • 1st Place: Anderson family
  • 2nd Place: Hunsch family
  • 3rd Place: Fritz family
  • Honorable Mention: Paladini family

“The creativity from our participants this year was unlike anything we’ve seen before,” Ms. Erbe said. “I will be looking into adding additional awards for next year because the competition this year was fierce.”

Mayor Curtis thanked Ms. Erbe, Bay Head Life co-chair Meryl Clement and Councilwoman Holly MacPherson for their help in organizing the parade.

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