By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
FONDA -- The inaugural "After the 4th" celebration kicked off Friday in the village to a small but excited crowd.
The two-day event began with a short parade that started at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Broadway, traveled down Main Street and ended at the waterfront park adjacent to the Montgomery County Annex Building on Park Street.
Friday's festivities also included a chicken barbecue hosted by the town of Mohawk Fire Department, a musical performance by Kardia, and fireworks.
The celebration will continue this afternoon from noon until 5 p.m. and will include entertainment by the County Line Rebels and a 50/50 raffle.
This is the first year for the celebration, but Mayor William Peeler said he has plans to make it an annual affair, with each year growing bigger than the last.
"We celebrate Memorial Day, and I thought it would be good to have a celebration of our independence and to bring folks out to enjoy," Peeler said. "The board members and I recall in our childhood days, growing up in the area and how things were, and we just want to bring that back."
This year's celebration is being held to raise funds for the park, which provides outdoor activities for local youth.
For the past several years, village officials have been working to make improvements to the park, and hope by next spring to construct a boat launch, docks, restroom facilities, a memorial, entertainment site and improved grounds.
Peeler said that the village received a grant several years ago, which was used for engineering and plans. This year, the goal is to move into the construction stage.
"We are hoping to get that off the ground by next spring," he said.
The crowd walked among the dozen vendors set up on the lawn, while children played in bounce houses.
Residents Danielle Flander and her mother Kim Flander, the village's former mayor, said they came out to support the village.
"It is a wonderful event with a great turnout," Kim Flander said. "It will only get better and better."
Peeler said the goal is to create a not-for-profit group which will eventually take control of the event and the planning.
"I don't think it should be in the hands of the village board," he said. "We want to make sure we separate village government and the community. This is for the people."