In the mid 1990s, my husband and I moved our little family — the two of us and one toddler — to a wonderful bungalow in western Lakewood. One of the reasons we picked Lakewood was its “hometown” feel. The neighborhoods were friendly and small. The schools were awesome. The parks were well-kept and clean. And boy, did we love our Lakewood summers, including hours spent at Foster Pool in Lakewood Park, Friday night movies at the park and even Sunday evening concerts in, you guessed it, Lakewood Park.

A huge part of our summer traditions were the city’s incredible Fourth of July events. First, there was the parade on Lake Avenue, from Nicholson Avenue to Lakewood Park. We had our favorite treelawn to spread out our blanket and plop our folding chairs, Our daughter, and followed within three years by our son, loved that parade. Our favorite parts were the “Krazy Kops” car in which Keystone Kops would shoot a rubber chicken out of a bazooka, and the Lakewood High School Marching Band.

After the parade, we made our way to a food festival at the park where we ALWAYS got the donuts with red, white and blue sprinkles.

After a quiet afternoon at home, we would return to an increasingly packed Lakewood Park, find our favorite spot near the band stage, and settle in for concerts, speeches and the final (and most exciting part of the day) fireworks display.

Getting back to our car was always an adventure as tens of thousands of people walking in a tight pack made their way south, east and west back to their cars. Several years ago we moved to a brick colonial in West Park, just three houses from the Lakewood border, but I feel like we still live in the city and we still love its community feel.

So this year, with all Fourth of July events canceled, makes me sad. Even though we missed fireworks for the first time last year (unavoidable), it’s still disappointing because we don’t even have the option to continue our 25-year tradition. It, like all the rest of all crowded events, is canceled.

So this is the year, folks, for new traditions. We are staying home and having our own celebration. I am buying lots of solar-powered twinkle lights to bedeck our backyard trees and shrubbery. I am planning a cookout with all the staples: hamburgers, potato salad, potato chips and beer and/or mixed drinks. Around 9 p.m., it will be time to go inside and find a re-run somewhere on “The Capitol Fourth” or “Boston Pops” Fourth of July concerts.

It will be different, But it will be fine. We are together. We are healthy. We are happy.

Happy Fourth of July!

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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