The lawn of the Stenson Memorial Children’s Library was unrecognizable on the night of July 3, as the area transformed into a sea of red, white, and blue. Sea Cliff children and their families gathered with their bicycles, scooters, and even wagons in tow, some waving American flags and others wearing sparkly star headpieces, to kick start the village’s Fourth of July festivities.
As librarian Ann DiPietro emerged from inside the library carrying a basket overflowing with tinsel and streamers, children ran to her side, eager to pick out decorations for their rides.
“This is the best part,” said Charlotte McCarthy squealing with delight. “Tomorrow is the bike parade, and our bikes have to look so pretty!”
This celebratory scene is exactly what Christine Abbenda Hughes hoped for when she founded the event three years ago. Bicycle decorating, in conjunction with the Fourth of July bike parade and the reading of the Declaration of Independence, are all ways the residents honor the establishment of the United States as a community.
Abbenda Hughes, a member of the Sea Cliff Civic Association, said she felt Sea Cliff’s children needed to be more involved in the village’s Independence Day celebration. She was motivated to begin a unique Fourth of July tradition where children could express their creativity while learning about the meaning behind the holiday.
“By incorporating these fun activities, we get the children excited about the Fourth of July,” Abbenda Hughes said. “With that, there can also be an discussion with the kids about what the fight for independence really means.”
Children loved wrapping their bikes with American flag-themed paraphernalia and enjoyed talking about why they do so. “We’re celebrating America’s colors and why America is important,” said Fiona Hughes.
Stella Cashman, whose scooter was covered in ribbons, sparkles, and bows, also recognized the significance of the Fourth of July. “It is America’s birthday,” Cashman said. “Without it, we wouldn’t have our country and be free.”
As DiPietro walked helped the children fasten bright red lights to their handlebars, she marveled at the sense of togetherness the event inspired. “Events like these enable our community members to get out of their homes, meet up, and spend time together,” DiPietro said. “It’s just another reason to appreciate the wonderful life we have here in Sea Cliff.”