, Salem, MA

June 17, 2013

It's Family Festival time again


---- — DANVERS — It’s that time of year again, folks.

It’s time for fireworks, food trucks, ice cream, hot dogs and dancing to the oldies on Maple Street. It’s time for the Rotary softball game and the Mike Gordon Fishing Derby.

It’s time for the Highlands Bean Supper, the Polish Club Picnic and the Kiwanis bike safety rodeo, plus the Back Bay and Horribles parades.

In short, it’s time for the nearly three weeks of events that make up Danvers Family Festival, a celebration of all things Fourth of July now in its 34th year.

It’s time to gorge on a spaghetti supper prepared by and served by Boy Scout Troop 16 at the Maple Street Congregation Church; then, later in the evening of Wednesday, June 26, boogie to the oldies in a blocked-off Danvers Square.

It’s time to sing your heart out in the newly renovated Danvers High auditorium for a chance to be the next Danvers Idol on Friday, June 28, and for a chance to sing before tens of thousands at the massive Fireworks Festival on July 3.

The real kickoff to Family Festival will be this Friday’s Swing into Summer — A Speakeasy Roaring ’20s-themed gala at the Danversport Yacht Club.

Lois McKenzie, co-chairman of the festival with her husband, Bill, said you may have missed the boat as far as this party is concerned, because it has sold out.

”It’s going to be a good time,” Lois McKenzie said. “A lot of work went into it, I know.”

A big change this year is the tightened security for the fireworks in light of the Boston Marathon bombing, with Plains Park secured until 4 p.m. before the public can enter.

No personal items, such as blankets and chairs, will be allowed in before 4 p.m., and unlike in past years, there will be limited points of access into the park. Fireworks-goers will also be screened. Bags, baskets, backpacks and coolers are not allowed in the park; neither are skateboards, bicycles or pets (except service dogs). Bikes can be locked up outside the park. Diaper bags and purses are allowed. Food and beverages must be carried in clear plastic bags. There will be no fundraising tollbooths in order to streamline the process of getting people into the park.

”It’s all been implemented,” McKenzie said. “It’s all in the works; unfortunately, it’s going to be tighter than normal.”

Because of time constraints, the parachute jumpers from Jumptown will not be performing. New this year, a number of food truck vendors, from The Cookie Monstah to Lobstah Love, will supply the food. A patriotic program will start at 8:30 p.m., and at 9:15 p.m., the winner of the 50/50 raffle will be announced. The fireworks display is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. (The fireworks rain date is Friday, July 5, at the same time.)

Family Festival is more than just fireworks.

There’s a Touch a Truck event at the Liberty Tree Mall on Saturday, June 22; the Highlands Bean Supper, also on the same Saturday; and the History, Harmony, Hot Dogs and Hits at Glen Magna Farms on Monday June 24, with Essex Baseball Club taking on Danvers High’s baseball team, playing by old-time rules.

Family Festival is also a time to gorge on ice cream at the 11th annual Scoop-Ah-Bowl, or take in the doll carriage and bicycle parade or Shiyanne’s Tea Party during Endicott Park Day, which is 11 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 29. The Rebecca Nurse Homestead on Pine Street is hosting a 1912 Gala Day on Saturday, June 22, with patrons asked to pay the original admission price to the museum of 25 cents.

It’s also a time to give back, with the It’s My Heart — Boston fundraising walk, which raises money and awareness for congenital heart defects and takes place at Endicott Park.

One of the events McKenzie says is especially fun is Oldies Night, a block party that shuts down Danvers Square for a party on Maple Street, with tunes spun by DJ Chris Culkeen.

“It’s a good thing for the town. It’s like an old-fashioned block party,” she said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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