August 13, 2020
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For this year’s Ivoryton Fourth of July Parade—the 14th for the village—Lorraine Donovan has the unenviable job of parking czar, but she’s also had the pleasure of helping to plan this small-town event. She also helps organize the village’s Ivoryton Illuminations in winter. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

For this year’s Ivoryton Fourth of July Parade—the 14th for the village—Lorraine Donovan has the unenviable job of parking czar, but she’s also had the pleasure of helping to plan this small-town event. She also helps organize the village’s Ivoryton Illuminations in winter. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

Lorraine Donovan: On Duty on the Fourth

Published June 19, 2019

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If Lorraine Donovan talks to you while she is volunteering at the Ivoryton Fourth of July parade, she may utter one of the most feared sentences in the English language: You can’t park here.

That, in fact, is her job, to keep the semi-circle in front of the Ivoryton Green clear of cars, with the exception of those entitled to park in the handicap spaces, for the annual Fourth of July parade.

“I’m the traffic czar,” she says.

The parade, sponsored by the Ivoryton Village Alliance and the Essex Department of Parks and Recreation, is in its 14th year and has become a local institution, a celebration both of our nation’s founding and the joys of life in a small town.

This year Gary Riggio, who volunteers his company’s cranes and construction equipment for Illuminations, the Ivoryton Alliances’ Christmas light show, is the parade’s grand marshal.

“Gary is a lifelong resident of Ivoryton and a generous and extremely supportive member of our community. His dedication to the village shines for all to see when enjoying the lights of Ivoryton’s Illuminations,” says Donna Lee Gennaro, the chairperson of the parade committee.

Cotty Barlow is the co-chair of the event.

The parade steps off on Thursday, July 4 at 10 a.m. along Ivoryton Main Street. The march will be followed by Fourth of July ceremonies on the Ivoryton Green, including a concert of favorites from John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” by the New Horizons Band of the Community Music School.

This is the event for everyone who has always wanted to be in a parade. Marchers of all ages, in costume if they chose, are invited to join. And parade enthusiasts both young and old are encouraged to decorate vehicles from antique cars and tractors to bicycles and wagons to participate.

In addition, there will be a bagpiper and a line of fire engines.

“Lots of fire engines,” says Lorraine.

Vehicles gather at 9:30 a.m. on Cheney Street. Marchers and bicycles gather at 9:30 at the bottom of Walnut Street and the Mill Race Preserve.

Lorraine has volunteered with the Ivoryton Alliance since she retired in 2013 after 19 years as human resources manager at Chester Village West, now Masonicare at Chester Village.

“I had kind of lost touch with the community all those years in Chester and wanted to get back in the swing of the town again. I asked Chris Shane if he needed help with Illuminations and, you know, Chris never turns down and opportunity to recruit somebody,” she says.

Shane has been one of the guiding forces behind the Ivoryton Alliance since its inception.

Lorraine served as editor for a new project for the Ivoryton Alliance, a semi-annual newsletter. The first edition has just been mailed to all households in Ivoryton.

Before her time at Chester Village West, Lorraine had been at the heart of the community, as head of the Ivoryton Library for 13 years from 1980 to 1993.

“I can’t remember how I heard they were looking for a librarian. I’m a huge reader, and I’ve used libraries all my life and I boned up on everything I needed to know about libraries,” she says, adding that in her time libraries were not yet dealing with the new electronic technology that is vital part of their role today.

When she was librarian, she also did work for the historic markers that became part of the Ivoryton Green.

“I did research; I roughed things out and they were accepted. It was a great project,” she says.

For nearly 50 years, Lorraine has lived in the same place in Ivoryton, but not in the same house. Not too long after her family first moved in, their house burned to the ground. Lorraine says they never knew how the fire started.

“When we came home, there was smoke pouring out,” she recalls.

The family, then with two young children, relocated temporarily to Chester and then rebuilt on the same plot of land. She still remembers the generosity of neighbors in offering to help with such necessities as food and clothing as the family got back on their feet.

“There’s not a day that’s gone by that I haven’t been grateful to live in Ivoryton,” she says.

The fire brought Lorraine back to a hobby she had as a child, knitting. Some people said she was lucky to buy a new wardrobe to replace all the clothes she had lost. Lorraine felt differently. New clothes wouldn’t have the same memories that her burned outfits had. So she decided to create new memories by going back to knitting and now she is an expert and regular knitter. Still, though she has two grandsons, she doesn’t knit for them.

“What teenager wants to wear a sweater knit by nana?” she asks.

Lorraine also likes to cook, but with an imaginative twist. One of her favorite cookbooks is Waste Not: How to Get the Most From Your Food published by the James Beard Foundation.

“I like concocting things,” she says, noting not every concoction is a triumph. “I’ve had some disasters.”

Recently she made pineapple soda by steeping pineapple leaves and rinds in water and sugar for some three weeks.

“It kind of carbonates,” she reports, adding she mixed in another ingredient before drinking the soda: rum.

Lorraine looks forward to the upcoming Fourth of July parade.

“It’s just a perfect small-town event, something we can all get behind,” she says.

For more information on marching or participating with a vehicle, contact Donna Lee Gennaro at or Cotty Barlow at

Ivoryton Fourth of July Parade

The Ivoryton Fourth of July Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Ivoryton Main Street. Fourth of July Ceremonies follow on the Ivoryton Green. Vehicles meet at 9:30 on Cheney Street. Marcher and bicycles meet at 9:30 at the bottom of the Mill Race Preserve and Walnut Street.

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