Madison's neighborhoods celebrate July 4

Fourth of July festivities in Madison don't stop at Rhythm & Booms.

It can be difficult to foster a sense of community in a bustling city, but this year communities across Madison gathered for local parades, festivals and games.

Witwen's Fourth of July parade and barbecue grabbed the attention of pork enthusiasts, and Shorewood Hills has its own firework show on the fourth.

The Monona Community Festival at Winnequah Park featured carnival rides and food stands selling almost every variety of fried food.

The Elvehjem Neighborhood Association, or the ENA, hosted a day of fun and games with a raffle, some bounce houses, giant bubble machines and an obstacle course.

Around 100 people from the neighborhood enjoyed the sunshine and getting to know each other better, and Matt Poster, a local entrepreneur and wrestling coach, was out encouraging regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle and his new workout program, Get Fitsu.

Tiffani Roltgen, the association's president, became involved 3 years ago after moving to the area.

“It just seemed like it was the right thing to do,” Roltgen says. “I love the volunteers that I work with, and the board is fantastic. I get to meet a lot of new people and talk to neighbors. It's wonderful.”

Roltgen said that events like the ENA's Fourth of July celebration can build a stronger community and foster a safer, more comfortable community.

“People are really concerned about safety in their neighborhoods and their home value,” Roltgen says. “I think every neighbor that we get to know is one more layer to that level of safety we have.”

Mark Wendricks, the pack trainer for Cub Scouts Pack 39, led the group in a flag retirement ceremony, and also believes that neighborhood centered celebrations like the ENA's Fourth of July gathering are important to building a healthy community.

“I personally believe in...creating a sense of community in the city. And the East side of Madison has very strong neighborhoods. People get out on a beautiful Thursday afternoon Fourth of July and celebrate patriotism,” Wendricks says. “People that have never met each other introducing themselves and coming up and shaking hands and just being part of the community is great, as far as I'm concerned.”

Despite Madison's size, Roltgen believes that tight-knit communities are possible and that small celebrations and gatherings are at their heart.

“We were ecstatic about the turnout today, and it was just great to see families, kids and all ages of people out enjoying themselves,” Roltgen says. “The more community that we build, the stronger and safer our neighborhood's going to be.”