Independence Day celebration in New Paltz and Highland will be Friday evening, July 6

The 2014 fireworks finale (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The Town of New Paltz made the decision several years ago to hold its Independence Day celebration every year on the Friday of the holiday weekend. With the fourth of July falling on a Wednesday this year, smack in the middle of the week, the Friday chosen for the fireworks fiesta is July 6. Gates at the Ulster County Fairgrounds on Libertyville Road open at 5 p.m. Parking and admission are free.

A number of bouncy houses and kids’ activities will keep the young ones busy. Face-painting and henna tattoos will be in the mix, with food vendors offering a range of festival fare.

Live music begins at 6 p.m., provided this year by Hudson Valley-based entertainers Mark Rust, Hudson Valley Bluegrass Express and Soul City Groove. Rust offers a mix of traditional American roots music and original songs. He plays guitar, banjo, fiddle and dulcimer. Hudson Valley Bluegrass Express is a trio of seasoned musicians who play traditional and contemporary bluegrass music, or “newgrass,” as it’s been called. The line-up features “Doctor Romo” on mandolin and fiddle, Mike Aiese on stand-up bass and guitar with new trio member Matt Lamborn on guitar (longtime banjo player Thomas Earl moved to Hawaii). And Soul City Groove delivers solid soul standards and Motown classics with a four-piece rhythm section and three lead vocalists.


Carl Welden will once again emcee the Independence Day festivities, with local singer and actor Cheyenne See performing the National Anthem. Fireworks begin after dusk; bring a chair or blanket to sit back and enjoy.

The cost to put on the event comes to nearly $10,000 each year with only a portion of that covered by the town budget. So while the event is free to attend and open to everyone, cash donations to keep the tradition going each year are gratefully accepted. ShopRite of New Paltz is the primary commercial sponsor; organizers say the event could not be put on without them.

ShopRite staff will be at the event raising money for organizations that benefit veterans, selling water and snacks, fun festival items like glow-sticks and raffle tickets for a number of prizes donated by the store and their vendors (raffle prizes in past years have included a collection of 100 scratch-off lottery tickets; who wouldn’t want to win that?).

Proceeds provide funding to train and care for service dogs through The Tower of Hope, allowing seriously wounded vets to live a life of greater independence and comfort. They also benefit The Committee for Families of War Veterans, which raises funds for families of soldiers from the mid-Hudson region killed or seriously wounded while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. ShopRite also raises funds for the Orange County Veterans Food Pantry and Hudson Valley Honor Flight, the all-volunteer nonprofit that teams up vets with a traveling companion to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veteran.

The Independence Day celebration is also made possible with the assistance of New Paltz Police and the town fire department and rescue squad, all of whom donate their time and services.

The rain date for the Independence Day celebration will be Saturday, July 7. Organizers would like attendees to take note that pets are not allowed at the fairgrounds. For more information, call the town supervisor’s office at (845) 255-0604 or e-mail

Town of Lloyd will hold annual event at Town Park in hamlet of Highland

The Town of Lloyd will host its annual Independence Day celebration featuring “old-fashioned fun & fireworks” on Friday, July 6 from 6-10 p.m. at Town Field, located behind the Methodist Church on the corner of Vineyard Avenue and Main Street in the hamlet of Highland. Admission is free. DJ Rick Knight will play recorded music to enliven the event organized by the town Events Committee and sponsored by the Highland Business Association.

The party in Highland always brings out hundreds of families who arrive early in the evening to enjoy time with friends, tossing around a football or Frisbee. Games for kids are available along with face-painting and henna tattoos, and the bouncy castle will be back. Picnics can be brought into the park or food can be purchased from local vendors on hand who will offer savory edibles like chicken kabobs, hamburgers and hot dogs and sweet treats like fried dough and ice cream. Blankets and folding chairs are advised; stake out a spot early to enjoy the fireworks at dusk.