BAR HARBOR — As the Fourth of July approached in this strange year with limits on large gatherings and most of the traditional activities reworked or canceled, two young residents of Glen Mary Road got their thinking caps on and hatched a plan for a special, do-it-yourself celebration for their neighborhood.
They were so successful that they later dubbed the day “even more fun than last year” and “the best day of our lives.”
Logan Axtell, a rising third grader, and Griffin Winer, a rising fifth grader, are friends and neighbors on Glen Mary Road and have been playing outside a lot on their quiet street this summer.
As they rode their bikes around in the weeks before the Fourth, they started thinking about what it would take to organize their own neighborhood parade. As they rode and talked, neighbor Cristy Benson would sometimes join the conversation when she was working outside in her garden.
“They’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” Benson said.
The boys, whose families are now joking about the event production company they’ve started, wrote up detailed instructions for a neighborhood parade and delivered 22 color copies to neighbors’ houses.
“Floats will be coming from Norris Avenue down towards Cromwell Harbor Road, then back to Norris,” the invitation explained. A shotgun start with a Nerf pistol was also specified. Neighbors donated money to buy candy and donations, and a post-parade socially–distanced picnic was planned to be held in an empty lot behind the Bensons’ house.
“We thought it was going to be a tiny thing,” Winer said, but it kept building momentum in the days before the holiday. “We decided we’d make a whole bunch more floats and activities.”
They decked out their bikes and helmets with flags and streamers. Winer and his dad built and decorated a “chariot” float from an old moving dolly and shipping pallet, to be pulled behind a wooden horse the Bensons had sitting around from a high school drama production.
The morning of the Fourth, “we did some safety tests” of the floats, Axtell said, “but quietly,” so as not to draw attention and spoil the surprises.
Julia Axtell, Logan’s mom, shared her juggling skills, and other kids rode bikes.
Then Benson family unveiled a surprise they had been working on for some time, since Cristy’s early conversations with the boys about the parade: a human-powered approximation of the popular Anah Shriners miniature cars. They made and wore cardboard costumes of different kinds of cars.
“We practiced running in figure eights,” Jacob Benson said. “Once we got the cars on, we were a bit bigger!”
A highlight of the performance was when Jacob’s Mini Cooper jumped over his brother, Peter, whose costume was a low-to-the-ground Formula One racing car.
Nonhuman neighbors even joined in, Cristy Benson said. A bald eagle made several passes over the post-parade picnic.
During the picnic, the boys ducked out and delivered bags of candy to each doorstep on the street so when everyone returned home they had one more fun surprise.
“Logan and Griff saved the day,” said Axtell’s grandfather Galen Lowe, who rode with his wife, Janet, in the parade on their tandem bicycle.
“And they got all the grownups to play along!” added Winer’s mom, Dawn Lamendola.