Monday, June 20, 2016


For years, Jeff Brown was an integral part of the Forth of July celebration in Gasport. Here's his heartfelt letter about the past, present and future of the event...

On Veteran’s Day, we thank all those who have served or are serving now.  On Memorial Day, we remember all those servicewoman and men who gave all.  On the 4th of July, Independence Day, we want to remember what our independence means. We get to be wherever we chose to enjoy the day with our family and friends.  Some people choose to spend that day joining in the festivities of the Royalton 4th of July Celebration. 

The History of the Royalton 4th of July Celebration

On September 11, 2001 all of our lives were changed.   After that day, Heather Torerrie, from the Talk of the Town, wanted to do something to remember all those who lost their lives that day, and to remember all those who were there to help in the midst of the tragedy or in the aftermath.  On July 4, 2002, she decided to have a parade in Gasport. There were a few residents who joined in her very first July 4th parade.  The next year there were more.

In 2003, the Great Royalton 4th of July Celebration was born at the Royalton Ravine, headed up by Tom Brigham Sr. and family.  Sons, daughters, sisters, brothers-in-laws, cousins, nieces, and nephews all assisted Tom in putting the festivities together. There was music, games for the kids, pie judging, pie eating contests, a strong man contest, and a lot of other family things to do.

In 2004, Tom and a few friends, myself included, went to take a pyrotechnic course so we could shoot fireworks at the Royalton Ravine on the Fourth of July.  To this day, none of us have been paid a nickel to light the fireworks.  In addition, we light the fireworks in Olcott every 3rd of July, donating any money we earn toward the Royalton 4th of July hoping to put on a bigger and better show each year.  Aside from that money, money from the chicken barbeque, held at the park each year, was put towards the fireworks and the remaining amount was paid for by Tom and his family. 

In 2008, Tom and family decided to step back and let a team of about twenty take over. I was late for the meeting that day, so guess who got nominated to take over?   Since that time, the whole crew has been amazing in putting this day together.  The volunteers over the years have been a great help. Linda Flagler and her group put the kid’s craft area together for the younger kids. Sue & Ed Soos took care of the games for the older kids.  The sponsors like Mike Drum, Deb Genet, Dominick Ciliberto, and their families, who not only make a monetary donation, would spend a lot of time helping wherever we needed help.  Then they would be at the Ravine, on the 3rd of July, to set up, all day on the 4th, and then return, yet again, on the 5th to clean up.   

Although this was not a town event, the Town of Royalton always paid for the insurance cost to cover the day, in addition to giving us a sizeable donation.   Local sponsors helped pay for the day and their names would be listed on a board that was displayed in the park.  After the 4th we always put a full page ad in the paper thanking all our sponsors.

July 4, 2015, was the 8th year our small team of volunteers, that gets smaller every year, put on quite a celebration for everyone to enjoy.  I had been searching for three years to find someone to take over. 

The Future of the Royalton 4th of July Celebration

Last year, Matt Snell said he would take it over.  Matt is excited to take over the celebration.

He wants to bring back the kids’ games and family fun that we have not been able to do the last few years due to a dwindling crew of volunteers.  While casting his vision to bring back the kids’ programs and other fun adult activities, it was decided that the Royalton 4th of July Celebration was outgrowing the Royalton Ravine.  It was decided that the celebration would need to be moved to Hartland Town Park.  I’m as excited as Matt that this 4th of July Celebration will continue. 

The Parade

As for the parade, I can say I dropped the ball.  Beth Tiefel, has run it for as long as I can remember. She has also has been asking for someone to take the reins.  I forgot to get someone to do the parade. If there is someone out there who would like to do it, there is still time.

I’m sure Matt will be looking for volunteers to help him as well.Matt's email is:

Special Thanks

To all the people who have helped over the years, I want the thank you all very much.

To all the Fire Departments, Gasport Chemical Hose, Terry’s Corners Fire Dept., Middleport Fire Dept., Wolcottsville Fire Dept., Hartland Fire Dept. thank you very much.

Niagara County Sheriff’s Dept. and Middleport Police, thank you.

To the Niagara County Parks Department, thank you.

To the Niagara County Work Release Program, thank you.

To my wife, Angie, who never saw me the month of June, I love you.

To all the new volunteers, thank you in helping Matt put together a new era in celebrating The 4th of July!

Jeff Brown