Cassadaga Celebrates Labor Day Early

CASSADAGA – Cassadaga’s Labor Day parade fell in line with the 200th Anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

There were around 33 participants in what marks the second village-run Labor Day Parade. Before the village, the Labor Day Committee organized nine parades (2000-09) and ended on the village’s bicentennial.

Village Historian John Sipos welcomed the large crowd to this year’s celebration, while Deputy Mayor Jeff Frick was the master of ceremonies.

Kevin and Laura Washington came from Annapolis, Maryland, to celebrate the Labor Day festivities and Ducky Derby for the first time in Cassadaga.

“We usually come in early August,” Laura said. “We decided to come up just for this week.”

Sipos explained the significance of this year’s parade coinciding with the 200 years since the event inspiring the national anthem.

“Francis Scott Key was a lawyer, who was negotiating the release of prisoners on a ship,” he said. “In the morning, he looked out and saw a bright day. Those are the first lines of his poem, which became a song a couple months later.”

The reason for the attack on Fort McHenry was because the British burned the White House and the president’s house in August 1814.

“The rockets that burst in the air were real rockets filled with shrapnel that fell from the sky,” Sipos said.

The Cassadaga American Legion Post 1280, Red Hat Society Ladies, Sinclairville Meals on Wheels, Cassadaga and Cherry Creek fire departments were some who paraded down Maple Avenue.

The 16th annual Ducky Derby followed the parade. The Cassadaga Lakes Association has held this every year to raise money for care of the lakes.

This year the funds were raised for the weedcutters and various events. With more than 600 tickets sold, and 26 winners the duck wranglers were busy.

“We are celebrating the new and improved Ducky Derby this year,” Lakes Association President Dennis Collins said. “This is Ducky Derby 3.0 since we are trending on Facebook.”

“You won’t find anything else like this in the world,” he continued. “The Ducky Derby is iconic to Cassadaga, making it a Cassadaga phenomenon.”

Brad Blizzard and Cindy Flaherty are the world-renowned duck wranglers every year.

“It went wonderfully, the ducks were feisty, but it was good fun,” Blizzard said. “This is a great fundraiser for the community, and always a good time out with the family.”

This year’s Ducky Derby Winners were first place, Erika Abram; second place, Kelly Whitver; third place Reagan Smith; and fourth place, John Sipos.

The Boat Parade will take place at 3:30 p.m. today. The theme is neon, so whoever has the most colorful boat wins. Matthew Nickles directs the Dunkirk Middle School Band at 4 p.m.

On Sept. 13 at 10 a.m., the Cassadaga Lakes Association will hold the Paddle Across the Lake celebration, which allows non-motored boats to enjoy the lake. The event will begin at the DEC launch site.