VALHALLA, N.Y. – It was only July 3, but Westchester residents were celebrating the Fourth of July Tuesday evening at the annual Kensico Dam Fireworks and Music Festival at the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla.
“It’s great that everybody comes together like this to celebrate America,” said North White Plains resident Marilyn Hylenski. “It’s a great atmosphere.”
Thousands were on hand for the free annual festival hosted by the Westchester County Parks Department. The atmosphere was casual as guests brought their own lawn furniture and blankets in order to sit and enjoy the evening. The Benson-Scott Big Band provided musical entertainment for those in attendance, playing classic patriotic songs to celebrate the holiday.
County Executive Rob Astorino said the event was a way for all Westchester residents to come together to celebrate America’s Independence Day.
“No matter your beliefs or political affiliation, we are all American,” Astorino said. “And we can all celebrate our country’s birthday.”
The North Castle Police Department and the Westchester County Police blocked off many local roads around the dam throughout North White Plains, keeping people from parking on the side streets of residential areas. Susan Hylenski, a North White Plains resident, said the change was good for nearby residents.
“I live just up the road so I just walk down here,” Susan Hylenski said. “But a lot of the people last year were parking on both sides of the road near my house and it was a mess.”
Yonkers resident Irma Ashayagori said she usually attends the fireworks display with her family at Rye Playland, which are set to take place on Wednesday evening, and they decided this year to make their first trip to the Valhalla festival.
“We always come down here to the park at the plaza so we figured this year we need to head up here,” Ashayagori said. “Seeing all the people here together and enjoying themselves is a great time.”