A Good Old Fashioned Fourth of July
As the Fourth of July gets closer, Clarkdale residents recall the beginnings of the town's Old Fashioned Fourth.
Phyllis "Pep" Bright remembers a small parade her sons, Ken and Dan instigated. They had seen the Cottonwood Christmas Parade in 1954, and asked their father, Dr. Daniel Bright, why Clarkdale didn't have a parade. Dr. Dan talked to the Police Chief, Noble Pirtle, and Nob agreed to close off a portion of Main Street on July 4th for the children.
They had two blocks to use, from the school down to 14th St., and all the neighborhood turned out. There were children with bikes, children with wagons, children with dogs; little girls with dolls in their doll buggies, all decorated in patriotic colors. They paraded down the street one way and turned back and paraded the other way.
By 1982, the 25th anniversary of incorporation, the parade reached all the way down Main Street, and had featured such notables as Dorothy Benatz, Judge Findlay, Dr. Bright, Herbert Young, Ed Starkey, R. Pecharich, F. Estrada, and Margaret Conner, former postmistress. Margaret was 87 and rode in the back of Dr. Bright's Model A pickup truck with a large umbrella for a sunshade.
Dr. Bright was also responsible for bringing in fireworks. He became mayor after Bud Linder, the first mayor after incorporation, resigned due to conflict of interest. The fireworks were shot off over Peck's Lake and Pep remembers cars parked all around the lake to watch, the reflections of the fireworks in the water, and the lights of the cars as they circled the lake on the way out. The fireworks had to be abandoned when Phelps Dodge closed the lake, and there was no safe place to shoot them off.
The Ice Cream Social was a fund-raising event for the Restoration Committee, a group organized in 1983 to refurbish the Clubhouse. It was turned over to the Library Advisory Board and Volunteers in 1994. Once again this year, the Library volunteers will be dishing up ice cream and baked goods after the parade. And once again, they are asking the good cooks of Clarkdale to donate cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes - whatever they wish - for sale. Call the library at 634-9760. Or just bring them to the park by 10 a.m. on the Fourth.
Good traditions like the Children's Parade, the Firemen's Pancake Breakfast, and the Library's Ice Cream Social should never die. They speak to the heart and soul of this special little town.