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Celebrating Freedom and Community: Riddlesbrood's Enchanting Presence at the Historic Smithville Fourth of July Parade 2024

On a bright and beautiful 4th of July morning, the charming streets of Historic Smithville, New Jersey, came alive with vibrant colors, joyous music, and the excited chatter of an estimated 10,000 spectators. The annual Fourth of July parade, the largest in all of New Jersey, started promptly at 9 a.m., marking a celebration not just of American independence, but also of community, creativity, and collaboration. Among the many participants, the Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company stood out with their enchanting "Wizard of Oz" themed float, captivating both young and old with their magical performance.

 

Riddlesbrood Theater Company Shines at Historic Smithville Fourth of July Parade 2024
Riddlesbrood Theater Company Shines at Historic Smithville Fourth of July Parade 2024

A Tradition of Excellence and Community Engagement

 

Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company has been a proud participant in the Historic Smithville Fourth of July parade since 2002. Over the years, their presence has become a cherished tradition, eagerly anticipated by parade-goers. Some past floats have featured Peter Pan (2023), Alice in Wonderland (2022), Frankenstein (2016), Harken (2018), Pirates (2002 & 2011), the circus (2012) and even the Jersey Devil (2003)!  This year, the Riddlesbrood float did not disappoint. It was a vibrant and elaborate display, featuring beloved characters from our mainstage performance of "The Wizard of Oz," including Glinda the Good Witch (Kathleen jack Tegen), the Cowardly Lion (Jerry Long), Dorothy (Kaylie Leon), the Tin Man (Justin Hlifka), and also a few of the kids! (Amelie Connelly, Arianna Brown and Tegan Long, Scott Albert). The float, adorned with a backdrop of the infamous house that fell on the Wicked Witch of the East, was a testament to the creativity and dedication of the Riddlesbrood team.

 

The Witch!
Wizard of Oz Float by Riddlesbrood Captivates Crowd at New Jersey's Largest Independence Day Parade

Bringing the Community Together

 

The preparation for the parade is a monumental task that involves not just the actors, but also their families, friends, and dedicated volunteers. The process of creating the float is a communal effort, with parents and children alike contributing their time and skills. This collaborative endeavor fosters a strong sense of community and camaraderie among the participants.

 

One parent, whose child played the role of a Munchkin, shared, "Being a part of this parade is a highlight of our year. It’s not just about the performance; it’s about coming together as a community. The kids learn so much about teamwork and dedication, and we, as parents, enjoy the opportunity to be involved and support them."

 

They speak of wonders and speak of Magic

 

As the float made its way down the parade route, the Riddlesbrood actors brought the characters to life with their enthusiasm. Glinda the Good Witch, resplendent in her pink gown and crown, waved gracefully to the crowd. The Cowardly Lion, with his heartwarming antics, and the Tin Man, holding his signature heart, charmed the spectators. Dorothy, with her ruby slippers and blue gingham dress, waved at all the kids! The Scarecrow (Sam), with his endearing clumsiness, elicited laughter and applause.

 

Enchanting Performances by Ghostbuster at Smithville's Fourth of July Celebration

One of the most captivating moments was the appearance of the Wicked Witch of the West (Kate Brubaker), complete with a green face and a bubbling cauldron emitting smoke. The Wicked Witch, alongside a mischievous winged monkey (Shannon Long), added a touch of theatrical drama to the float, delighting the audience with their playful interactions. They even had one of the Ghostbusters (Brian Albert) on his hover board delighting the kids!

 

Clyde Steers the Magic: Driving the 'Vandal' with Riddlesbrood's Wizard of Oz Float in Tow!
Clyde Steers the Magic: Driving the 'Vandal' with Riddlesbrood's Wizard of Oz Float in Tow!

Celebrating Freedom and Liberty

 

The overarching theme of the parade is a celebration of freedom and liberty, values that resonate deeply within the community. For the Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company, participating in the parade is not just an opportunity to showcase their talents but also a way to honor these values. The theater company believes in the power of the arts to bring people together and to inspire creativity and expression, essential components of a free society.

 

Riddlesbrood’s Executive Director Ryan Long (Also known as Clyde), reflecting on their long-standing participation in the parade, said, "Every year, we are reminded of the importance of community and the joy that comes from celebrating our freedoms together. The parade is a symbol of unity, and we are proud to contribute to that." We even had a local celebrity ride with us! Beth Tinnon and Langdon as Uncle Sam!

Beth Tinnon and Langdon at the Parade

A Day of Joy and Unity

 

The Fourth of July parade at Historic Smithville and the Village Green is more than just a spectacle; it is a day of joy and unity. Families line the streets, children wave flags, and the air is filled with a sense of celebration. The Riddlesbrood float, with its vibrant colors and dynamic performances, is always one of the most unique floats in the procession.

 

For the actors, both young and old, the parade is a chance to connect with the audience and to share their love of theater. It is also an opportunity to learn valuable lessons about teamwork, dedication, and community spirit. As they wave to the cheering crowds and see the smiles on the faces of the spectators, they are reminded of the impact of their performance.

 

The Legacy of Riddlesbrood

 

Since their first participation in 2002, Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company has grown and evolved, but their commitment to community engagement and creative expression remains steadfast. Each year, they bring something new and exciting to the parade, delighting audiences and fostering a sense of anticipation for their next performance.

 

The legacy of Riddlesbrood is not just in their theatrical productions but also in the relationships they build and the joy they bring to the community. The parade is a celebration of that legacy, a testament to the power of the arts to unite and inspire.

 

As the float made its final turn and the parade drew to a close, there was a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the future. The Riddlesbrood team, tired but exhilarated, began to think about what was next…and that’s always a nice lunch at Fred and Ethels Restaurant, whose food never fails to fill the belly!

 

The Historic Smithville Fourth of July parade is a beloved tradition, and the participation of the Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company is a highlight of the event. Through their creative performances and community involvement, they embody the spirit of freedom and liberty that the parade celebrates. As the echoes of the parade fade and the community returns to their daily lives, the memories of this joyful celebration remain, a testament to the power of community and the magic of the arts.

 

Community Spirit and Theatrical Magic: Riddlesbrood's Parade Highlight in Historic Smithville
Community Spirit and Theatrical Magic: Riddlesbrood's Parade Highlight in Historic Smithville

The Fourth of July parade in Historic Smithville is more than just a celebration of American independence; it is a celebration of community, creativity, and the shared values that unite us. The Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company’s participation in the parade is a shining example of how the arts can bring people together and inspire a sense of joy and unity. As we look forward to future parades and performances, we are reminded of the importance of community and the enduring legacy of freedom and liberty.

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