Our contest winners for fondest memories of the Needham 4th of July Celebration are:


To say it was challenging to choose three winners among the submissions we received for our Memories of your 4th Contest is a massive understatement!

Choosing our winners started with anonymizing the entries before sending them to our contest judges. The judges read through the entries, slowly but surely choosing their favorites.

Your stories brought back so many wonderful, distant recollections of what the Exchange Club has done during this time of year and enlightened us about what the 4th of July in Needham means to our more recent Needhamites.



1st Prize: Kristen Dermody "The little girl proudly carrying the banner!"

"July was always my favorite month, because it was my birthday but more importantly it was the Fourth of July. I remember waking up on July 3rd feeling more excited than I would on Christmas morning. Ever since I can remember, my father was a member of the Needham Exchange Club and I had the privilege of helping him sell glow sticks to everyone coming to view the fireworks, to raise money for the next years events. I remember the crowd felt so huge as a kid and people always had the biggest smiles on their faces as I handed them their colorful glow sticks. I loved the sound as you cracked it open and made it light up purple, pink or green. Soon enough it would start to get dark and I would sit in my Dads lap with my sister and brothers and look up in awe as the fireworks started. The colors, the booming sounds, watching the little ashes as they seemed to come so close to the ground, the crowd “oohing and ahhhing”, all of it is burned in my memory as some of the happiest nights of my childhood. As the show would end, I would skip home with my siblings and neighbors knowing I had a big job carrying the banner for the exchange club in the morning. I would wake up early and head to the starting line, myself and a few select friends would take our places and walk the parade route, feeling like the most important people in the town. When we finished we would cool off with an ice cream at memorial park, enjoy carnival rides and spend our hard earned allowance at the flea market.

The Fourth of July in Needham has always meant so much to me, I will forever remember helping out my Dad and the exchange club, in fact I’m pretty sure the members still know me as the little girl proudly carrying the banner! I look forward to the day where I can pass on these traditions to my own children, and keep the joy and anticipation of the Fourth of July going for many generations to come."

2nd Prize: Lauren Rondini "A time that all Needham children, parents, friends, and neighbors share together."

"Summers in Needham were long, hot, and filled with the same old same old. Although I was never disappointed in an ice cream cone from the junction, after a couple dozen vanilla soft serves, even that magic seemed to be dulled by the heat and inevitably empty streets of my ride home. While my friends were off at summer camp or in their vacation homes on the cape, I remained stuck for what seemed to be the eternal summer. That is, I mean, until the Fourth of July. A day anticipated by Needhamites all across town- a day my grandmother adored just as much as my baby sister. When we would spend our time outside from morning until dark: smiles sticky from candy, feet darkened from the grass below our feet, heads ringing from the music of the morning and the sharp pop of the art show above our heads. When we would wait eagerly for the sun to fade behind the library- waiting, waiting, waiting for the first crack to ring sharply. When we would collectively gasp at the array of colors unfolding like an umbrella over our heads, and smile a bittersweet smile as the roaring firing squad finale signaled the end to that beautiful day. When the excited murmur that flooded the streets on our walks home seemed to be only of joy and peace: a tired couple holding hands, a young face offering to carry their elderly neighbors chair to their home, good friends saying- “get home safe!”.

The Fourth of July reminds me of a time when friends and strangers sat together- in awe, in peace, in the same content state as the friendly face beside them. It is a time that I missed when I was finally old enough to go to that great summer camp, or visit my friends at their homes on the cape, and a time that I still look forward to each summer that I am home. A time that all Needham children, parents, friends, and neighbors share together."

3rd Prize: Thomas Keating "Veteran pride, Hiya Louie!" 

"It was 2017, I believe. The Needham Veterans of Foreign Wars had a marching unit leading the parade as usual in the traditional honor position. It was a very hot sunny day. There were eleven or twelve of us marching, and another six veterans riding in a truck behind us.

Among the guys marching was Lou Picariello. A former Marine veteran of World War 2, Lou insisted on marching, not riding, even though he was around 88 years old. We all were concerned for him because of the heat. One of us made sure there were bottles of water available in the truck behind us, and we kept our eye on Lou as we marched.

The crowds were great, cheering us and the detail of veterans carrying Old Glory and our VFW standard. Lou kept up with the pace as we marched down May Street, then turned onto Webster Street and turned again down Highland.

They cheered louder when they saw Lou marching along, hardly breaking a sweat. People who knew Lou shouted "Hello Lou!" and "HIYA Louie!" When he heard those shouts, he straighten up, and marched crisply down Highland Avenue. We finished the parade at Memorial Park, where we all shook his hand and gave him a pat on the back.

The rest of us were in awe of this member of "The Greatest Generation", showing his pride at being a veteran, and a citizen of this town. It was an inspiring sight."


Here are the rest of the submissions we received:



One of my favorite memories of the parade on the Fourth of July, and definitely the funniest, is the year John Fitzgerald dressed up as an organ grinder for the horribles section and brought his pet spider monkey. Halfway through the parade, the spider monkey broke its tether and scampered up a nearby telephone pole. The parade halted until the Needham fire department could dispatch a ladder truck and a firefighter to retrieve the wayward monkey.

Howard

Barnes

We have had the good fortune of living in Needham for 46 years and have attended each of the parades on the 4th. As a Vietnam Veteran my most memorable parade was in 1990 when the Veterans Service Officer, first name Terry, made the Vietnam Vets feel welcomed home by marching as the Grand Marshals. There was also a presentation before the festivities the previous evening. This was the first time I felt welcomed home, since June 17, 1970. I thanked Terry profusely then and continue to have very warm feelings of these events.

Thank you, Needham

Peter

Bates

When everyone is looking up at the sky at the fireworks, I love glancing over at the faces of my family members. Their huge smiles and hearing the ohhhh and ahhhhh makes the Needham 4th of July Celebration extra special. I’ve taken some beautiful pictures of their lit up faces on this special day.

Victoria

McQuade

The Needham fourth of July is always a reminder of how lucky and proud my family is to be part of such an amazing community. It carries with it so many fond and happy memories. Whether it’s the twinkling of the fireworks reflection in my older daughter’s eyes or the big grin on my younger daughter’s face as she collects candy from the parade, the fourth of July brings pure joy to our family. As a result, when we receive the flyer in the mail with the fourth celebration schedule, it is immediately put on our fridge. In a fast paced world full of busy schedules, we can look at our fridge and know that we have some exciting things to look forward to celebrating as a family. We are beyond thrilled to have the full schedule to look forward to next month and the chance to make so many more memories!

Amanda

Legare

I remember our first fireworks after we moved to Needham. I was 5-6 years and we walked up to the High school hill from where we lived about 1/8 mile away. I had never seen fireworks before. I remember in the 1960’s on the grass with our entire family.

The colors and the different shapes, the amber lights drizzling to the ground like snow flakes… I was hooked for good.

Every year since, my younger brother and I

Spent every July 4th sitting on the curb at the intersection May st and Webster… we lived a block away… it was like a gift from Heaven being able to watch the parade…

Fred Muzi on the horse was amazing to see and actually provoked me to read more about the Native Indians . Then the flea market with carnival foods, we would ride our bikes to visit. It was and still is a great achievement by The Exchange Club to do this each year. More residents should get involved and support the Exchange Club and

Hopefully allow all to create more events in the town for other times of the year. I can’t

Thank the exchange club enough; Having known past and present members. Thank you all.

John

Washek


The fireworks on the 3rd of July are a family favorite… we always try to gather with friends and the kids always have a blast running around together… when we first moved to Needham 11 years ago, our son enjoyed his first Needham fireworks when he was FOUR days old :)

Joyce

McCafferty

As a child I remember sitting on the curb outside Carters on Highland Ave. We would arrive early and set chairs along the road. My extended family would be meeting us there. My mother had a best friend who lived in Roslindale. We would celebrate Christmas Eve and the 4th of July together every year.

Sitting on that curb waiting for everyone to arrive had so much excitement. Hearing the police and fire sirens in the distance, hugging everyone as they arrived, getting to buy “one thing from the street vendor” with the money I had saved all year, was such a thrill. I loved the floats, Rhoche Brothers had the best, That was my opinion. We all waited for the cowboy on his horse and to see who were the champs in little league.

One of my highlights was getting to walk in the parade as a girls softball Champ!

To grow up in Needham the parade was a highlight of my summer. I would run in the races at memorial park each year, walk along the track to view all the floats, browse the flea market, then head home for the best BBQ at our house.

If you ask any of my extended family we would say the 4th of July was better than Christmas.

Thirty years later I had the opportunity to walk in the parade with my coworkers. We represented our daycare that day but with so many of my extended family and father, who have passed It also represented my youth that day. Walking was a tribute to them.

I wanna think the exchange club there isn’t a fire works display I have missed and now I share it with my children and our new extended family.

Denise

Donehey


We moved to Needham in late 2018. We kept hearing about the wonderful town, the community, the schools, and the amazing 4th of July celebrations in Needham! Everyone talked about the firework and parade and kept on telling us they were the best event in the whole Massachusetts.


My husband and I have traveled around the world and seen pretty amazing fireworks displays, so we thought everyone was exaggerating a little.


July 4th, 2019 festivities came around my husband, the kids and I head to Memorial park after work, and the place was packed! The energy was amazing, everyone was happy, chatting, having a picnic dinner, meeting friends, music was playing, it looked so much fun. We worried about not having space, but we found a perfect spot for ourselves near the dance floor and we had a nice picnic dinner. When the fireworks started, we noticed we were right in front of it, and we could lay down in our mat, and watch them, and WOW!!! We realized people were not exaggerating! They were and still are, the BEST fireworks we have ever seen! We felt so grateful and emotional to be able to enjoy this amazing event just 10 minutes walk from our home. We know how much effort it takes to put a show like this, and to know that our town did an incredible firework display was truly exciting!


The next day we got ready early for the parade. Less than 10 min walk to the center and we got a fantastic place for the kids and us to enjoy it. Seeing our kids' daycare having a float was so good, but to be honest, the whole event was enjoyable even though it was truly a hot day.


We walked to the Memorial park to see the vendors, and it was the perfect ending to the celebrations. Our new town allowed us to feel like a big town/city with all the celebrations. We even spoke to our close friends and let them know that for future years they had to come and enjoy Fourth of July events with us in Needham! No better place than in our new home!


We are so happy to be part of Needham!

Pooja

Mahtani

In 1997, just like every year, I was sitting at the corner of May Street and Webster with my parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews-watching the parade. When the kids with their decorated bikes and wagons began to ride by, I looked and saw my boyfriend was there with a decorated wagon. I was so confused! Then I heard the claps and whistles and looked closer at his wagon… champagne, flowers, and balloons with a message…Will You Marry Me? All of a sudden his family was there, the police man had stopped the parade, people crowded all around were cheering! Oh, and I said yes! 25 years later it is still the best decision I ever made!

Jean

Dorsey


About 7 or so years ago a friend of ours worked in Needham and told us how nice the July 3rd fireworks were. After attending we wholeheartedly agreed!


We lived in Boston at the time, but always made it a point to come to Needham on July 3rd for the fireworks whenever we could. Over the years we invited different friends to join us and everyone just loved the community feel. Of course, finding parking was always a challenge, but we would eventually find a spot even if it was a bit of a walk.


Fast forward to 2020 when the pandemic forced us to finally leave Boston. We looked at a number of towns to buy a house and Needham wasn’t actually included at first, but after two bids that weren’t accepted we ended up putting an offer on a home in Needham that we thought was a long shot. Fortunately it wasn’t! When we moved in and took our first walk we realized we had actually parked near our block to see the fireworks in the past. We always joke that maybe we parked in front of our house many years ago and had no idea!


Since the pandemic got in the way of last year’s show, I’m so excited to be able to walk this year from our own house for the first time!


We love fireworks and still can’t believe Needham is our town. We look forward to inviting friends and continuing the tradition - this time with easy parking!

Kate

Friedman

My fondest memory of the fireworks at the Needham 4th of July Celebration, was the amazing display back in the 1960s I think. There was a set up on the hill of two ships in full spangled star studded display of the ships firing at each other. One of them was sunk at the end. It only seemed to appear one time, at the display!

My second fondest memory was also from the 1960s. It was the recurring voice over the loudspeaker requesting, "Dr. Hoffman to the medical tent," as the early years of Needham's fireworks showered the crowd with sparks and ash! That problem was eventually remedied, but I always got a kick of how many times my Dad was summoned to the tent during the fabulous fireworks display! -- ilene hoffman

ilene

hoffman


The Exchange Club of Needham

P.O. Box 920475, Needham, MA 02492

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