This is an archived article that was published on in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Millcreek • The East Mill Creek Lions Club's Fourth of July celebration unfurled just like always — which is much of its charm.

But Tuesday's event differed a bit from past festivities.

There behind the grill flipping pancakes for the traditional chuck wagon breakfast in Evergreen Park was Jeff Silvestrini, mayor of this community marking its first Independence Day as a city. Councilman Dwight Marchant had a spatula in hand, too, while Councilwoman Bev Uipi made sure drink containers were full of milk or orange juice and snapped pictures to document the occasion for the city of roughly 62,000 people.

"If I wasn't the mayor I'd have had to work my way up the ranks, up from cutting strawberries," Silvestrini said of his pancake duty, quickly adding he was "proud to be mayor of a cool city" and a featured figure in an event the Lions Club has sponsored for 60 some-odd years.

"This is a really good neighborhood thing," he added, reflecting the fact that Millcreek's population includes plenty of longtime residents, including "kids who came back to live in the neighborhood where they grew up," but also scores of newcomers.

One of the latter was Liz Winfield, a physician's assistant at St. Mark's Hospital who just bought a home on Evergreen Avenue. Her driveway provided a prime spot for grandsons Legend and Atlas Burkman, ages 4½ and 2, respectively, to chase frantically after candies tossed by neighborhood kids riding by on bikes or in wagons, all festooned in red, white and blue.

"Holy Moly, look at all that candy," Legend exclaimed while he dumped a handful of taffy pieces into a bag next to his mom, Brandy, while grandma chased Atlas and his fast-moving little legs down the street as he chugged after a loose Tootsie Roll.

The Burkman boys were part of a sizable crowd of little kids, backed by parents and many grandparents, who packed both sides of picturesque Evergreen Avenue for the parade's five-block run from the East Mill Creek 1st LDS ward to the park.

With triple-digit temperatures looming, about two dozen young girls from the Artistic Endeavors Dance club warmed up in the church's morning shade as motorcycle cops from the Unified Police Department weaved back and forth down the road, sirens blaring, to get the parade rolling at 9 a.m.

Once they were moving, UPD Officer Bettina Allen got a flotilla of bicycle riders ready to move from their parking lot staging area into the street. "Let's go bikes," she encouraged, waving her arm in a circle to signify go, go, go.

After spending much of her work time dealing with society's more challenging individuals, Allen loves this duty.

"You get to see the best this community has to offer," said the 16-year veteran in the Millcreek precinct. "It's so good to see people having fun with each other. That's a nice break from the street grind. And we get to smile. What could be better than that?"

Smiles abounded Tuesday, for a variety of reasons.

Summer Greaves made a couple of dozen folks happy when she pulled cold Diet Coke cans from her wagon and handed them out to thirsty observers along the increasingly toasty parade route.

Deborah Van Wagoner's grin extended the width of her face while trying to get her 11-month-old granddaughter, Charlotte, to look at the camera while going back and forth in a baby swing at the park.

Life's simple pleasures are the best, she said, and that's why the Millcreek 4th is so appealing. "I love the small-town feel of it. It's not your big, glitzy parade or anything. It's just fun."

That's the way it's been in Millcreek, and that's the way it's going to be, said Lee Ann Hansen, an incorporation advocate and a judge in this year's parade.

"This event is symbolic," she said, "that as a city we have continued our traditions. That's what people wanted for our city and that's what we intend to do. This is a good continuation of our identity."

comments powered by Disqus