By Barbara Taormina
Malden marked the Fourth of July with its chain of red, white and blue celebrations in parks throughout the city.
Kids, teens and adults ignored temperatures that climbed into the 90s by mid-morning and flocked to the parks to play games, run races, toss eggs, ride ponies, splash down water slides and feast on hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, meatball subs and all sorts of Fourth of July fare. Organized by the city’s eight ward councillors with help from local businesses, organizations and volunteers, the events gave families a chance to celebrate the holiday together as neighborhoods and communities.
“We got the flyer for Ward 5 and we went online and saw all the parks had something,” said Gloria Israel, who was at Forestdale Park with her three-year-old great-granddaughter, Lilly.
And, if fact, driving through the city, it did seem like there was a bounce house and a big inflatable water slide around every corner.
Councillors Peg Crowe and Paul Condon cohosted a huge party for Wards 1 and 2 at Devir Park which featured one of the morning’s biggest draws, the Greg Lucey 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament for high school players in grades 9 to 12. Dozens of kids woke up early Wednesday morning and headed out in the heat to compete.
“It’s fun, but it’s hot,” said Roy Tribble, one of a large crew of firefighters and cops who turned out to keep score and referee the games.
“I’m happy with the way these kids came out in this weather,” said Malden Recreation Department Coordinator Joe Levine, who helped organize the tournament. “We do a lot of things with kids and the police and fire departments to get everyone to know one another better. It makes a connection, and it really does work.”
Younger kids decked out their bikes, wagons and doll carriages with flags, streamers and bows for patriotic decorating contests.
“My mom helped me … and my dad a little,” said Iliana Sanchez, 5, who took home a top prize for her red, white and blue bike and costume.
And there were other contests for patriotic pets, planters and desserts.
Fourth grader Petra DeMarco entered her cake frosted with stars and stripes in this year’s bake-off at Forestdale. “I bake a lot of cookies and cupcakes,” she said, adding that getting 50 stars on a sheet cake is no mean feat.
And those who played games, tossed eggs and water balloons, ran races and shot baskets were awarded big ribbons and legitimate prizes.
As kids cooled off on water slides and inflatable water houses, parents set up lawn chairs and relaxed together in the shade. The many volunteers who helped run the events were busy, but they seemed pleased to be able to dole out burgers, sandwiches, drinks, popsicles and slush.
Several people who were from other towns and were visiting family in Malden were amazed there was so much going on in so many different spots around the city. But for Malden residents, like Keryn Sheridan, it’s all part of the local tradition.
“I’ve been doing this since I was a kid,” said Sheridan, who was back this year with her three-year-old daughter, Haylee. “It’s great.”