Lila Serapilio had one of best seats in Charlton on Sunday.
It was right in her front yard, just off Charlton Road. Serapilio, her husband Ron, friends and relatives sat under the shade of a Norway maple and watched the town’s annual Founders Day Parade.
“You see neighbors you might not normally see all year,” Serapilio said. “It’s a good time, especially when you have a nice day. It’s nice to see families out ... it’s a peaceful event, nobody comes out picketing. And everybody behaves themselves.”
While many consider Memorial Day the official start of summer, people in Charlton will say the season begins with Founders Day Weekend. The Charlton Historical Society organizes the festivities, which this year included a Saturday road race, party in the park and fireworks. For the town’s 47th Founders parade, police estimated about 3,000 people lined Charlton Road and shopped at a combined farmers market and artisans fair on Maple Avenue.
“Here they come!” announced Owen Rothe, 6, standing in front of the Charlton Tavern with family members as a white and green Charlton police car and a black New York State Police cruiser — roof lights rolling — led off the parade.
“It’s a community and neighborly event, which you don’t get in this day and age,” said Larry Leone, a resident of Charlton for the past 10 years. “It’s fun to get out and see the neighbors in the community.”
Rick Reynolds of Ballston was one of the first marchers in the 35-minute parade. People couldn’t miss his Colonial-style dress — long gray coat, and blue vest over white shirt, cream-colored short pants, high white socks and black buckle shoes. And a silver-haired wig, tied in a pony tail in back.
“I’m Samuel Meredith, treasurer of the United States from 1789 to 1801,” said Reynolds. He’s got a special affinity for Meredith — his great-great-great-great grandfather. Sam would have been around when Charlton was founded in 1792.
Reynolds also has an affinity for the Founders Day parade. “This is Americana at its best,” he said. “This is continuing the tradition that’s gone on since the 1700s, when parades started in America. Samuel Meredith marched in a parade in Philadelphia in the late 1700s.”
Galway High School musicians, Charlton firefighters, fire trucks from Charlton, Galway and West Glenville — many tooting horns and running sirens — all were in the line of march.
Seven-year-old twins Emmy and Audrey Mosall were dressed identically — in red butterfly shirts, black shorts and blue caps decorated with red star antennae. “It’s fun,” said Emmy. “Loud noises!”
Both girls then scrambled to pick up candy that parade walkers and riders were throwing by the bunch. “That’s why they like the parade,” said grandmother Vicky Germano.
Tractors, a riding mower, a row of classic and classy Corvettes, vintage Ford “Model A” cars, and old-time classics like a mint green Chrysler New Yorker and a burgundy Jaguar XJ6 passed by. Less classical, but more fun, was the Ellms Family Farm tractor pulling 11 miniature “cow” cars — each carrying an adult or child.
“It’s an opportunity to pull the community together,” Charlton Deputy Supervisor Bob Lippiello said. “Obviously, they enjoy celebrating together. We’ve added a party in the park, I think it’s 15 years we’ve had a party in the park on Saturday night and fireworks. We follow it up with today’s activities.”
Sunday’s parade received positive reviews.
“We’ve been coming for about 40 years, we just love it,” said Kathleen Tersigni of Ballston, watching the fire trucks and cow cars with her mother, Sandy Lannon. “Small town Americana ... everybody loves a parade.”
Ballston’s Ellis Gershon did a fair amount of worrying during the show. He was driving that classic Jaguar.
“We sit there with our eyes glued to our temperature gauges to make sure it won’t overheat,” he said. “That’s the worst thing for a car, to drive that slow in a parade. But we made it.”
Gershon took his eyes off the gauges for a few seconds. He likes waving to adults and kids standing on the sides of the road.
“If they’re not waving and you wave first, a whole bunch of waves will come back,” he said.