The Montclair Celebrates Committee is hosting a “Caravan for Heroes” on July 3 to honor front-line workers — and to celebrate the grand marshal originally expected to be honored during 2020’s July 4 festivities. 

The committee cancelled its July 4 parade and picnic for the second year in a row in 2021, citing the uncertainty around coronavirus restrictions over the several months usually dedicated to planning the event. Early this month, the state lifted its remaining restrictions on gatherings.

The caravan will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, beginning at Lackawanna Plaza and going throughout the South End to Upper Montclair, ending at Glenfield Middle School. 

The caravan is to celebrate all frontline workers, community organizations and local businesses for their part in helping Montclair during the pandemic, as well as to give the Montclair community a way to celebrate Independence Day, the committee said. The event will honor 2020 Grand Marshal Dan Gill for his more than 50 years of service as a teacher at Glenfield Middle School.

The caravan will include antique cars and convertibles driven by members of the Montclair Celebrates Committee. For safety reasons, organizers are asking the public to only wave flags and cheer along the route.

Signs will be placed in front of businesses and organizations that “played a major role in keeping the Montclair community safe, hopeful, and cared for during the COVID-19 crisis,” the committee said in announcing the event. Organizations include Toni’s Kitchen, Human Needs Food Pantry, Mountainside Hospital and the township police and fire departments. 

“We’re sorry that we can’t have our normal festivities this year. We had to make early decisions because planning the parade takes months,” Donato DiGeronimo, spokesperson for The Montclair Celebrates Committee, told Montclair Local.

He said Gill “epitomizes our essential workers along with our health care workers who kept Montclair operating during the pandemic.”

— Lauren Peacock