How it Began
It all began in 1974 when Montrose residents and the inhabitants of Susquehanna County began the venture of reliving a little of the past, as well as looking ahead to the future, as they marked the observance of the 150th incorporation of the Borough of Montrose.
For the Sesquicentennial observance on July 4th, 1974, the Montrose Recreation Board, created by Montrose Borough Council on January 1, 1974, under the leadership of Dale Bushofsky, Chairman, spearheaded many activities towards planning a program utilizing many areas of the borough. Their ultimate objective was to raise the funding to improve the recreational facilities in and around Montrose, especially Montrose Memorial Park.
The Recreation Board was faced with the task of raising $40,000 to match a grant from the Penna. Department of Community Affairs in order to make all the improvements that were necessary. The Board decided that one large event, whereby interested organizations and individuals would not only raise money, but would create community interest and activities for individuals to enjoy.
Thus, the Fourth of July was chosen as the time for such an event. Also, because Montrose was celebrating its Sesquicentennial that same year, it was decided to combine the two events into one celebration. Plans included having an Arts & Crafts Fair, a parade, fireworks, games, dances, etc. If the event was a success, it was anticipated conducting this type of event every year, with the proceed to be used for new recreational sites and activities and the maintenance of those sites.
As a result, the Montrose PA July 4th Celebration came into existence and is continuing to this day. That first year consisted of a buffet breakfast at the Montrose Inn, an Ecumenical Service on the Court House Steps at 10:00 a.m., an Arts and Craft Show on the Village Green, games for young children and adults were set up on the Upper Green and Firehall Grounds, and a chicken BBQ was served at noon. A spectacular parade was held at 2:30 p.m. consisting of bands , floats, antique vehicles, fire trucks, and a featured German Band from Philadelphia. The Church Street Singers presented a musical performance at 4:00 p.m.
The day’s activities proceeded to Montrose High School where the Community Band and the Percussion Ensemble presented a concert. The day concluded with a fireworks display at dusk.
Celebrations to Follow
On July 5th, commencing at 9 p.m., a Block Dance was held on the firehall grounds sponsored by the Montrose Junior Women’s Club and Y-Gradale. The first year was both a financial and social success and “Let’s do it again, every year” was the unanimous opinion of the thousands of people who visited Montrose on July 4th and 5th, 1974.
The Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Community Service Clubs were actively involved by providing volunteers to make and sell Chicken B-B-Q dinners, speedie and sausage sandwiches, and hamburgers and hot dogs for the thousands of guests who came to Montrose to participate and observe our Nation’s Birthday.
1976 was a special year as America celebrated its Bicentennial. A “Three Day July Fourth Festival” was planed and presented. Demonstration of many skills of the past were featured on the Village Green. Soap making, use of a spinning wheel, glass blowing, quilting, rug weaving, pottery spinning and leather working were just a few of the disappearing arts that were remembered.
On Saturday evening, July 3rd, an old fashioned Block Dance was held on Lake Avenue next to the Village Green. On July 5th all activities shifted to the Montrose Area High School Grounds. At 1:00 p.m., an Air Show featuring radio-controlled airplanes put on a Stunt Flying Exhibition. At 6:00 p.m., a three-hour Variety Show was held outdoors featuring music and a big band sound along with vocal and musical groups from all over Northeastern Pennsylvania.
As a climax to the weekend festivities, a spectacular fireworks display began at dusk on July 5. It was a fitting end to a fun filled weekend for all Montrose residents and visitors as we proclaimed, “Happy Birthday, America”.
1977 was a unique year for the celebration. All of the same events that the Montrose Recreation Board had planned and presented since its inception in 1974 were a part of the annual July 4th Celebration. At the conclusion of the festivities, the Recreation Board, along with the cooperation of the Montrose Borough Council, concluded that they had met their financial goals in order to create new facilities, upgrade current sites, and provide ongoing maintenance for Montrose Memorial Park and other facilities in the area.
The Montrose Recreation Board decided that even though their leadership was finished, the celebration should continue into the future. Thus, in 1978, the reins of presenting the Montrose, PA July 4th Celebration were turned over to the Montrose Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary Service Clubs. The leadership of this group became known as the KLR Committee.
"Living Together, Working Together"
For the first time, 1978 was the inaugural year of the co-sponsorship of all the July 4th activities by the Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Clubs (KLR). These 3 clubs began working on their first joint project. Under the theme, “Living Together, Working Together”, the shared the tasks necessary to continue making another “Olde Fashioned 4th in Montrose” for area resident and visitors.
The results were a rousing success. Thousands of people visited Montrose for the 3-day event. On Sunday, July 2nd at 3:00 p.m., a musical presentation of “I Love America” was sung by the Senior Choir of the First Presbyterian Church on the Village Green. On Monday evening, July 3rd, a block dance, featuring the Roger Furman Orchestra, was held on Lake Avenue near the Green.
The festivities on July 4th started early at 9:15 a.m. with the First Annual Endless Mountains 10 Kilometer run. 108 runners registered and competed in the race. At 11:00 a.m. the Patriotic Parade came into Montrose via Grow Avenue, Church Street and Public Avenue ending at “the Green”. Over 50 Arts and Craft Exhibitors were on the Green displaying and selling their unique wares. Many food and beverage vendors were serving our guests, topped by the KLR’s famous Chicken BBQ.
A special feature on the 4th was music at the Gazebo, located on the Green, starting at 1:00 p.m. More than 15 entertainers were scheduled to play a variety of types of music. Because of the lack of sponsors, there were no fireworks at the end of the day in 1978.