The Harborside community gathered to celebrate with its annual Fourth of July parade and accompanying festivities last Thursday.
The entire community was invited to walk in the parade, with a special invitation extended to veterans. George Lirakis was Master of Ceremonies. He entertained the crowd with singing and guitar-playing anytime there was a break in activities.
Marching in this year’s parade were several veterans’ groups, the Brooksville Free Public Library, and an impressive assortment of local and seasonal residents.
There were two pie-eating contests after the parade: one for under-12s and one for over-12s, with a father and son from Massachusetts nabbing prizes in each category. James Stuart of Massachusetts took first prize in the over-12s. His son Liam came in second amongst the under-12s. Stuart claimed they have notched up several pie-eating victories and “practice all year.”
Usually a traditional Mayor of Harborside is elected at the annual Fourth of July festivities. This year the position was left vacant in honor of Richard Klain, who served as mayor the past four years running, and died in May.
Sarah Klain honored her late grandfather and much-loved local character in a speech delivered from the grandstand. Klain was an active member of the Harborside community, who, with his wife Juanita, founded the Harborside Fourth of July parade in 1986 to, according to Larakis, “give their granddaughters something to do on the Fourth of July.” His granddaughter remembered him as a man who had time and consideration for everyone: a great storyteller, good listener, notorious flirt, and perpetual joker, who used to pull his dentures out when people shared their woes, exclaiming, “Troubles? You don’t got troubles. I got troubles!”
Sheila Moir then took the stage to read from the poetry of the late Dan Hoffman, former U.S. Poet Laureate, and another beloved Harborside community member to have died this year.
Lirakis read a “list of lost,” honoring all who have passed on in the small, close-knit community this past year. He followed this with a “list of arrivals,” welcoming those who were born in Brooksville/Harborside since last Fourth of July. He then invited any and all to take the stage to “say” and/or “play” anything they wished to share, providing it was not religious or political in nature. The first to take up his offer was a young girl from Rhode Island who baffled and delighted most in attendance with a one-verse a cappella rendition of a modern pop song.