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Peekskill Fourth Festivities: An All-Year Affair

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Last year the city’s fire department was unable to raise enough funds to pay for both a parade and a fireworks display, forcing them to cancel the parade for the first time in almost 50 years. “Fireworks are a bigger draw with people,” said Peekskill Fire Department spokesman Sue Sheridan, a former captain who leads the event’s planning. “So we went with what we thought would give us the most bang for our buck.”

But this year the parade will once again wind through the streets of Peekskill beginning at 10 a.m. on Highland Avenue. Many city residents may not realize that the vast majority of the funding for the Fourth of July festivities comes from the department’s “Fill the Boot” drives, which are held several times each year on the city streets. “We normally do them in September, October and November and one if we can squeeze it in if the weather’s still decent in December,” Sheridan said. “And then we start all over again in March, April, May and June. It takes that much because people can’t afford to give us a lot at a time.”

This year the department also sent out letters to local businesses to ask for help, and several answered the call. “A few of them chipped in $50 or $100,” Sheridan said. “It came to a thousand dollars.” The department paid $13,000 for the fireworks display, which this year will be performed by Fireworks Extravaganza of Maryland.

The department also pays between $900-1500 for the parade’s seven parade bands. “They’re coming from as far away as Connecticut and the Bronx,” Sheridan said. The Port Authority Pipes and Drums will be here again and they’ve been with us since 2002. There is a special Sept. 11 memorial float in the parade created by the Westchester Volunteer Fireman’s Association and area departments including Peekskill that will be led by the Port Authority.

“There will be flowers on that float and when it gets to the riverfront those flowers will be taken off and be put at the [Sept. 11 memorial] steel,” Sheridan said.

Police said they estimate that attendance for the fireworks display will be approximately 5,000 people, Sheridan said. With the anticipated increase in attendance, this year the city is providing live entertainment and vendors at the Riverfront – they hope to raise more money that night through donations.

“If each person drops in a dollar that came in there, you would have five or six thousand dollars, which is half the cost of the parade or almost half of the fireworks,” Sheridan said.

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