Expressing gratitude on the 4th

ALPENA – There is more to Independence Day than fireworks, parades and barbeques. It is a celebration of America’s democracy and freedom – just ask residents of one Alpena neighborhood.

The residents that live on Wisner Street take part in these activities each Fourth of July, but they also go out of their way to express appreciation and gratitude for their freedom and liberty.

Dick Parfitt began the tradition when he lined the front of his house with American flags as a salute to the men and women who died to earn and preserve America’s freedom. As time passed it has become an annual ritual to most of the people in the neighborhood. It is a ritual that may have began on Wisner, but is now beginning to spread to other neighborhoods in town.

Dick Silver said the neighborhood is always very active on the Fourth of July, especially as events at the beach such as the sand castle contest and fireworks take place. He said traffic, coupled with friends and family gathering, makes the neighborhood a place of celebration.

“Dick Parfitt began it maybe about eight years ago and it snowballed to the other neighbors. You have to keep up with the Joneses in this neighborhood you know,” Silver said. “We see how this idea has spread. If you look down the street you can see other homes doing it. There seems to be new ones each year.”

Barbara Parfitt said Independence Day always has been special to her and her husband, because their family has a rich history of serving in the military. She said it is important to remember those who fought for democracy and independence.

“The holiday represents our freedom and we have had a lot of family members retire from the military and more recently we have had nieces and nephews who have fought in Iraq and came home safely, so it means a lot to us,” she said.

Silver said his father had served in World War II and there are others in the neighborhood who had served in various wars. He said the flags are a salute to all who served. Silver said even though the holiday is geared toward freedom, he still enjoys spending time with friends and family and taking part in the activities around town.

“For us the holiday is a huge family outing as well. We have 26 people coming over for dinner,” Silver said. “This entire street is really jammed with people and cars. It’s so exciting to watch that every year.”

Silver said many of his guests are from out of town. He said they choose to come to Alpena because of the celebration and activities that take place throughout the entire day.

“From the people who come to my house, who are all from out of town. they tell me Alpena is the best,” Silver said. “They tell me that is why they come back every year. They don’t celebrate the Fourth of July in their hometown, they come back to Alpena to celebrate it because they think it is the best.”

Parfitt said she hears many of the same remarks from people who are visiting.

“The people I have talked to who are from out of town and visiting say it is just marvelous,” Parfitt said. “We have a lot of things to offer that maybe other communities don’t. The Maritime Festival, the parade, the lakes and the harbor. I think people look

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at