PLAINFIELD – The city will host Independence Day events with a Returning Heroes Parade, an R&B concert in Cedarbrook Park, and a fireworks display on Saturday, July 7, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs announced. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. and conclude with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.
For 89 years, the City of Plainfield has hosted an annual veterans parade as part of its 4th of July festivities. This year, the theme has changed to reflect current sentiment.
“Throughout the country, a growing coalition of veterans, elected officials, and members of the public are calling for parades that honor veterans returning from Iraq,” said Robinson-Briggs. “Our parade seeks to not only honor those who are returning from Iraq but to remember the men and women who defended this country in previous wars.”
This year’s parade theme is Returning Heroes as it seeks to honor the recently returned American troops from Iraq last December. The Pentagon has said that they are looking for a national parade for the troops but not until combat troops are off the battlefield in Afghanistan.
The idea to honor the returning troops came after a discussion with Assemblyman Jerry Green, Council Chairman William Reid, and PMUA Treasurer Alex Toliver. Toliver, a veteran himself, saw recent parades in Missouri and Texas proposed a similar idea as this year’s theme.
This year’s grand marshals are Frank Rivers and Evonne Cirrith.
“We can celebrate the return of the American troops when they return from Afghanistan too,” said Robinson-Briggs.
Robinson-Briggs, like other members of a fast-growing coalition say, “Why wait to celebrate the return of Iraqi troops when many are already home?”
Several thousand American troops will not be coming home. That is why city officials believe it is important to host a special parade honoring the memory of the men and women who paid the ultimate price on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan while formally thanking the troops who have returned.
Robinson-Briggs said, “I welcome the elected officials and residents in the surrounding municipalities in joining me in honoring these brave men and women.”
This year, the City of Plainfield is happy to announce a special musical performance by the legendary Sarah Dash. Dash was a founding member of Labelle, whose single, “Lady Marmalade” reached the top of the U.S. pop charts in 1974. Soon after, Dash was signed as a solo artist on Don Kirshner’s label, Kirshner Records and had the international smash hit, “Sinner Man.” Her debut single stayed on the dance charts for two years and enjoyed major success in the European dance market.
“I am so excited to have Sarah Dash as a special guest. Labelle was an amazing group that broke racial, social, and political barriers. Many of their songs were the soundtrack of my youth,” said Robinson-Briggs.
Dash will perform The Star-Spangled Banner on the main stage. Also in attendance will be radio personalities from BSK1 Radio as they stream live from the main stage.
The Returning Heroes Parade kicks off at 10 a.m. at Leland Avenue and East Front Street in downtown Plainfield and is expected to end at approximately 1:30 p.m.
At 1:30 p.m., parade attendees can make their way to Cedarbrook Park where they will find a wide variety of entertainment. Festivalgoers will enjoy live music and Jabbar Jones’ favorite classic, vintage, and custom car and bike show.
Attendees will enjoy live music by KeNoBo Band (R&B), Touch of Class with Carlos Sanchez (Salsa), 5.0 Band with Albert Hendricks, Latin Love (Salsa), Bullock Entertainment (R&B), James Dean Whiskey Quartet (Jazz), Sharon Dean (Gospel), Neicee White (R&B), Victor Jones featuring Darchel Scott (R&B/Jazz), and Dawn N’ Williams (R&B).
Fans of the 80s R&B super groups Shalamar and One Way are in for a special treat. This year, the City of Plainfield will welcome Howard Hewett and Alicia Myers.
At 5:30 p.m., Myers will take the stage and perform hits from One Way as well as solo material. Myers’ recording career began in the late 70s as one of the original members of the group One Way. She went solo in 1981 with her self-titled album, “Alicia,” produced by One Way’s bassist-writer Kevin McCord, featuring the hits “I Want to Thank You” and “If You Play Your Cards Right.” At the end of 2011, Myers released a collection of mid-tempo R&B material featuring the dance floor favorite, “Fancy Dancer.”
Hewett, a Los Angeles transplant from Ohio, met Soul Train dancer and future first wife Rainey Riley-Cunningham, then a secretary of the show’s creator and original host Don Cornelius. It was Cornelius who introduced Hewett to fellow Soul Train dancers Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel, and their group, Shalamar, was born. Shalamar was best known for their songs “Second Time Around,” “Make That Move,” “A Night to Remember,” “Dancing in the Sheets,” and the ballad “This Is for the Lover In You.” Hewett was the group’s lead singer from 1979 until 1985. Hewett pursued a successful solo career with Elektra Records and recorded his 1986 debut album, “I Commit to Love.” His debut album yielded two R&B hits; “I’m for Real and Stay.”
The live music performances are free and open to the public.
At 9:30 p.m., the festivities conclude with a sky-filling, world-class fireworks display by Jersey’s own Garden State Fireworks. It is estimated that the display will conclude at 10 p.m.
Note: No vehicular traffic will be allowed into the Cedarbrook Park after 4 p.m. Free parking is available in the surrounding area.