History of the Brookside Parade
The Brookside Community Club was established in 1923. At that time, the Club sponsored a 4th of July celebration which included cheering on Mendham in the annual baseball game against Bernardsville, athletic competitions and games for all ages, and a dinner dance to round out the day. The Brookside Fire Department expanded the celebration to include a carnival in 1928, and the parade was added to the celebration in 1935 when it was named
“Old Home Day.” We’re 79 years old this year!
The Parade has always been a hometown celebration of our Nation’s birth. Because the Community Club is so intimately tied to the Fire Department, it is no surprise that the Parade features Fire Fighters from all over this part of the State - and that it always has! It’s a patriotic celebration to which everyone is invited and it has been so much fun, everyone always seems to want to come! In 1937, people came when the hot topic of the day was Amelia Earhart, and whether or not she’d be found, and they returned in 1938 after a fire swept through the Club building. In 1940, the Red Cross was there to accept donations, and young men preparing to go to war marched to lively military tunes. You can just imagine the celebrations in 1945! And the ‘50s saw lively changes and additions. The ‘60s began with thanks that a second fire in 1959 had not destroyed the building, and continued with modernization of the building and continuation of the celebration, although without the baseball game and dinner dance.
Over the years the Parade has had many features, including riding lawn mowers decked out in red, white, and blue participating in the parade and in races afterwards. Horses, carts, and riders have always been included; sometimes there are many, sometimes just a few. Floats created by neighbors and neighborhoods have come into the parade, with some pretty imaginative creations floating down Main Street in Brookside! We are reviving that tradition in part by sponsoring a Design a Float contest in the elementary and middle schools. Parents and volunteers are invited to help build these floats, and will be provided additional trailers if they want to enter one of their own! Music is always present; from one man bands to marching bands, rock bands and community bands, this Parade has seen them all.
Games and amusements in the fields behind the Club have been provided for the kids for decades. The games have changed, but the purpose is the same – let the kids enjoy themselves since we are here to celebrate the fact that we have the freedom to let them do this! And while you’re at it, enjoy a bite to eat. There’s breakfast before and during the parade, and the Rotary Club of the Mendhams serves lunch so the kids can satisfy that appetite they worked up joining in all those games!
In 2010, the “Dancing in the Streets” themed Parade was a huge success, in no small part because our special guests were Martha and the Vandellas! And boy, did they deliver – not only did they sing during the Parade, they gave a short concert afterwards! We never really got over how much fun that was, so after the 2012 “Brookstock!” themed Parade concluded, the Committee again added a concert.
Finally, the Eskeland Family will run Bingo Night starting at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Club, as a cap to our day. You have to go at least once. You will be amazed – it is standing room only. REALLY. And it’s a mix of ages, from grade school to old school! And everyone has FUN!
...You will, too!