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July 3, 2013

Springfield Fourth of July parade to celebrate 99th year

“Celebrate the Fourth of July by coming to town and enjoying our celebration and inauguration day at the Ryerson Athletic Field.”

As written by the Springfield Center correspondent for a local newspaper of July 2, 1913, consider yourself invited, then and now. That particular celebration was one that sparked an idea for something even bigger, now in its 99th year, the Springfield Fourth of July Parade.

Local residents may have gathered previously for the Fourth in Springfield Center, but they didn’t have a good place to do so. That changed in 1913 when Ryerson Field was dedicated and a grandstand built. The field was given to Springfield Center by the Ryerson family, after Arthur L. Ryerson died in 1912 going down with the ship as the S.S. Titanic sank.

With a good gathering place ready in 1913, there was a baseball game between Cooperstown and Richfield Springs and other athletic contests to participate in. Carl Ely, for example, caught the greased pig in the chase, “and won a valuable prize.” There was also a report of a “spectacular bicycle parade” with many handsomely trimmed wheels.

With the new grandstand and bicycle parade, something must have sparked the organizers’ imaginations to make the Fourth in Springfield Center bigger and better. A summary of the day showed that the effort worked, as reported on July 8, 1914.

“It was a grand and glorious day and as happy merry people assembled on ‘the day we celebrate.’ The Fusileers parade at 11 o’clock, forming at the home of Frank Smith, and marching thro’ the village to Ryerson Field, was the finest of anything ever given here.” The Schuyler Lake Brass Band headed the parade, and a long list of floats and groups marching followed. The float of the Library Association won first prize, representing every nation by young parladies. The big annual gathering at Ryerson Field followed, ending with a “handsome display of fireworks.”

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