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By Daniel Curtin
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Smells of sizzling burgers and hot dogs on the grill.
Young children running around playing.
Hundreds sitting on blankets and lawn chairs, listening to live music.
This was the scene last Tuesday at Memorial Park in Needham as people kicked off celebrations for Independence day.
The Needham Exchange Club helped set up the festivities, which took place on July 3 and the following day. Tuesday night boasted fireworks, live music performances, and a great selection of food for those looking to celebrate.
Mike Taggart who has been with the Exchange Club for about 12 years, was helping out with the event.
“This is the community at its best, these are the best two days of the year in Needham,” Taggart said.
The event featured many activities for young kids, such as face painting and the pony riding, in addition to ample room to run around and play catch with beach balls and frisbees. To beat the heat, many enjoyed different cool treats like ice cream and snow cones.
On the hill rising above Memorial Park, Old Glory and the POW/MIA flag could be seen waving in the breeze. Members of the Needham Police Department and Fire Department, meanwhile, were watching those at the celebrations to make sure everyone was safe.
“It’s all of us coming together even with everything going on today,” said Cathy Byrd of the Exchange Club, who was selling accessories like glow sticks and beach balls. “It’s just amazing,” Byrd said.
Kyle Sinclair came to partake in the festivities with family, and appreciated all the different aspects that make the Independence Day celebrations so special.
“We have done this every year for the past five years,” Sinclair said. “It’s a good community event. It’s the food, the music, the ponies, the face painting. It’s everything.”
The next morning, the activities continued as the Charles River YMCA Road Race was held, followed by the raising of the flag at Needham Town Common.
Other events on the Fourth of July included a grand parade at Memorial Park that featured a craft fair, flea market, and more delicious food.
Janice Cavanaugh and Michelle Melville were both in attendance to listen to the live music and watch the fireworks. “I used to come as a kid here and I remember sitting on the field,” Melville said.
“It’s fun. We look forward to this every year.”