RIDGEFIELD PARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The Independence Day holiday celebrations continue in New Jersey Monday, with parades and packed beaches.
Ridgefield Park is honoring July 4 with it's annual parade, a small town event with a tradition that goes back a long way.
This is the 127th consecutive Independence Day parade, and yes, they pulled off a much smaller version last year during the coronavirus pandemic.
Residents pulled up lawn chairs and lined up on the sidewalks to let the celebration of American freedom reign.
It's a cherished event, and kids growing up in the town know they are there for something special. Residents who have moved away always come back for the parade.
Governor Phil Murphy, his wife Tammy, and other dignitaries marched through the town, and the history of the event makes it the oldest Fourth of July parade in the state and one of the oldest continuous parades in this country.
There are plenty of bands and honorees, high school honor roll students, tributes to the military, the police and fire departments, and plenty of candy being tossed to kids lining the parade route.
The governor says the crowds and parades are proof the state is recovering from COVID-19.
"Huge crowds, great excitement, thank God the weather got better," he said. "Absolutely it feels really, really, really good."
Asked about coronavirus concerns and the delta variant, Murphy said the state is still taking things seriously.
"There's no question about it," he said. "And I think the message has to be that everybody, we believe, right now in the hospital is unvaccinated. So I'm begging people to get vaccinated."
It's a hometown celebration that was back to full capacity and better than ever before.
The event is to be followed by a big fireworks display in town Monday night, capping off the real celebration of Americana.
Down the Jersey Shore, families were out having a wonderful time under the sun.
Many were enjoying the beaches and the boardwalks, some dressed up in red, white, and blue.
Kristin Marchese, of Hillsdale, called the weekend a big win.
"Definitely more normal this summer outside without masks," she said. "Having a good time."
And boardwalk businesses loved the crowds.
"Business has been fantastic," said Richard Mancinelli of Bobby Dee's in Wildwood. "It's a lot better than last year. We were hurting a bit last year."
For many, there is nothing more thrilling than seeing the Jersey Shore back to its summer self.
Belmar welcomed back 90% of its lifeguards, meaning every stand is up and monitoring the ocean, crucial on a perfect day to test the cold water.
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