BROOMALL–The blazing sun may not have stopped for Marple Newtown's annual Fourth of July Parade and Firecracker 5K, but traffic certainly did after a large portion of the westbound lanes on West Chester Pike/Rt. 3 were shutdown for Wednesday morning's festivities.
While many people were sleeping in on their day off, 494 runners and a crowd of spectators, turned out for the Third Annual Firecracker 5K. The record-setting amount of participants took off around 9:30 a.m., and runners of all ages crossed the finish line over the next hour.
James Belfatto, 16, won the 3.1-mile race with a time of 16:54 and 29-year-old Aaron Skolnik finished second in 17:03.
The parade followed the 5K and never lulled with around 90 minutes of lively participants and activities, including competitions between a variety of bands.
Newtown Square resident and Comcast SportsNet anchor Michael Barkann was the Grand Marshall for the parade. Barkann shared that he loves the nationwide unity that comes with holiday.
"It's a great day. To me, July 4th is about community and everybody being together," said Barkann.
"It's what we're about as Americans–to celebrate the day that our country was born and it's great to see the sense of warmth, community, and giving." – Michael Barkann
Other residents and parade participants shared their thoughts on the importance of the parade as well.
Broomall residents Bill and Joan Gibson have been coming to the parade since 1985 and said, for them, the celebration is "good memories and a slice of Americana."
Joe Talento resides in Marple Township and fought through the heat to emcee the entire parade.
"For the Marple Newtown community, it's not the Fourth of July without this parade," Talento said.
Both Congressman Pat Meehan (R-7) and George Bader, his 2012 opponent, took part in the parade, as did plenty of local officials, like the Marple Township Board of Commissioners.
"It was an honor to march as your nominee for Congress in the Marple Newtown Fourth of July parade, one of the largest in the state," Bader said. "Seeing so many of our families, friends, and veterans lining the route in celebration of our freedom is a testament to the American spirit."