Hometown 4th: Oneonta relaunches the holiday celebration
Hometown 4th: Oneonta relaunches the end-of-year celebrations
By PATRICK DEWEY • Special for www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – The 4th Hometown Festival will return to Oneonta’s Neahwa Park to celebrate the July 4th holiday next weekend, with the theme of honoring essential workers.
The goal is to honor workers, including grocery store staff, teachers, police, firefighters and healthcare workers, who took risks for the good of the community during the coronavirus pandemic, according to those in charge of the festival.
“We wanted to do everything we could to let them know that the First Night Board and the entire community appreciate them,” said Carol Mandigo, President of the First Night Board.
The celebration will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 2, at Neahwa Park, with a free concert by country artist Michael Christopher.
At noon on Sunday, July 4, the parade will line up at the Foothills Performing Arts Center on Market Street.
Dr Tommy Ibrahim, CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network, will serve as Grand Marshal for the parade. All essential workers are encouraged to participate and can register before the parade for a chance to win door prizes donated by local businesses.
The parade will start at 1 p.m. and end at Neahwa Park. The July 4 festivities will continue in the park with a celebration of arts and culture, starting at 2 p.m.
According to Mandigo, members of the local community such as Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig and future mayoral candidates will make remarks in honor of essential workers. In addition, company representatives and those who are essential workers can talk to their colleagues.
Ben Guenther, owner of Five Star Subaru, organized and funded the fireworks display which took place at 10 p.m. on July 4 in Neahwa Park.
Guenther said the fireworks will be twice as intense as the previous ones.
“We wanted to say that we are a community and we have that,” Guenther said.
Mandingo said Guenther wanted to honor essential workers from the early days of the pandemic, but it was the first time that a big event had been possible.
Musical entertainment and festival activities are designed for all ages. Activities include Mike the Juggler, face painting, and Harmony Martial Arts demonstrations. There will also be a variety of food, and tents and tables will be available.
After two years of watching the community grapple with the effects of the coronavirus, Mandigo said she can’t wait to see everyone come together again. She said she was proud that Hometown 4th was free, something she said wouldn’t be possible without her many sponsors and backers.
“This community is family and we look forward to giving back,” Guenther said.