One of the most well-known events was on July 4, 1917, when Colonel Theodore Roosevelt delivered his “One Hundred Percent American” unification speech at the LIRR Station.
The celebration on July 4, 1919, marked the 143rd anniversary of America’s independence. The success of the U.S. and her allies in WWI played a significant role in the commemoration.
The Fourth of July Celebration Committee included John Demarest, Sage Foundation Homes Company vice president, Frederic Goudy, a famed type designer and printer known for Goudy Old Style and Copperplate Gothic, and Herman Rountree, who lived on Slocum Crescent, and was considered one of the country’s most brilliant poster artists
Flag-raising exercises on Village Green featured the Forest Hills Rifle Club, Captain A.T. Shurick of the Committee on Military Affairs, an invocation featuring Reverend Rowland S. Nichols, and a community chorus performing patriotic songs. In anticipation, Frederick W. Seward, Singing Committee chair wrote,
“One of the most delightful features of our village life is the community singing, and at no time is this important feature used to such an advantage as on July Fourth,” wrote Frederick W. Seward, the chair of the local Singing Committee. “Somehow or other, singing together makes us better neighbors and better friends. And when our singing is of patriotic nature, we all become better citizens.”
“The Rifle Club was the first evidence of the loyalty of this community, and it seems fitting that it should be revived at this particular time,” read the Forest Hills Garden Bulletin, which was published by Sage Foundation Homes Company. “Many of its members have been in the United States service in different capacities. Some have been at the battlefronts, and it is but proper that we take this last opportunity to do homage to them.”
In Station Square, Congressman John MacCrate delivered an address.
“Today sees the consummation of the highest resolves of the men of 1776,” he said. “In that long ago time, men felt that responsibility must be met by individuals, and the people today must think the same.”
Attendees then made their way to tennis matches featuring the Inns vs. Outs on the Forest Hills Inn’s tennis courts, which was redeveloped in 1931 for the Inn Apartments at 20 Continental Avenue.
Back in Station Square from 1 to 3 p.m., children’s games ranged from a 25-yard and 60-yard dashes for kids, grand tilting matches for parents, sack races, a baby carriage race for fathers, and a pillow fight. Another highlight was the “Dance of the French Dolls” directed by Klara R.T. Jennings.
Making their way to the natural amphitheater of Olivia Park, “Dense Divertisement” starred students of the well-known Louis H. Chalif Normal School of Dancing on 57th Street. There were four dance interludes and one vocal performance. A concert by the 9th Coast Artillery Band was performed at 7:30 p.m. in Station Square and costume dancing began at 8:30 p.m.
“Nothing was more impressive than the raising of the flag by a member of the old Rifle Corps while the people assembled sang ‘Star Spangled Banner,’” read the Forest Hills Gardens Bulletin. “And nothing was more skillfully done than the reading of the Independence Day Proclamation of the Citizens by the Town Crier, Harvey Warren, in old New England costume.”