Fourth Friday Returns in Millville, Preps for Juneteenth


Wade Loatman, sitting, with members of LIfe Worth Living at Fourth Friday celebration on May 25, 2024.


MILLVILLE — In 2021, Fourth Fridays was just an idea in Wade Loatman’s head, but last Friday (May 25), he kicked off the latest edition of the summertime celebration and Captain Buck Park, bringing together family and friends at the riverfront destination to share the spirit of community.

Hundreds filled the park and engaged with 20 vendors in a scene that is sorely needed around Millville, parents and community leaders told Front Runner New as music, and the joyful noise of children playing and parents talking filled the air.

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With the resource vendors ranging from Rutgers University and Cumberland County 4-H to games for children, music and free picnic food, Fourth Friday’s kickoff was another success. It once again gave a reason for neighbors to come together, small businesses to engage with their customers in a relaxing atmosphere and to shine a positive spotlight on the City of Millville.

“Sometimes, it feels like it takes too much time and too many headaches to put together, but as you can see, in the end it’s all worth it,” Loatman, the owner of Bully Pest Management, said to FRNJ as the festival opened. “Thank God for Inspira [Health Network] coming through along with Life Worth Living and John Fuqua. We really are better together.”

Loatman saved special praise this year to partner Angela Morrison, the owner of the virtual assistant business Angie’s At Your Service.  

“She has stepped up big time in helping me organize,” Loatman said. “She has been tremendous in helping me move this forward.”

Fuqua, who was one of the sponsors last year, praised the Fourth Friday’s founder for sticking with the idea despite difficult times in organizing it to give the community something truly special to look forward to.

“Wade has really created something here,” Fuqua said as his gang-prevention and youth-oriented nonprofit set up their vendor’s booth. “You’ve got free food, people from all ethnicities — it’s really amazing.

“This is what collaboration is all about. Thanks to the City of Millville and Wade, you got something positive going in a place where people say not much is happening. We’ve got to keep this going now.”

Loatman said the next Fourth Friday, which has become Millville’s official Juneteenth celebration, will be something to look forward to on June 28. He said the band Musiz Live and a solo artist will perform, along with new vendors and other special attractions.

The Juneteenth celebration will be highlighted by an official Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony at Millville City Hall on June 19, a first for the city, and a second flag-raising before the June 28 celebration.

“We are going to make this the biggest Juneteenth ever in Millville,” Loatman said. “We’re going to have a kids drill team, a Jazz band, and we’re trying to get some food trucks out here, too. We’re going to make this a big deal.”

Millville City Commissioner Marissa Ranello visited Fourth Friday and said she was impressed with how it attracted people for a positive cause.

“It’s important to bring the community together with events like this,” Ranello said while chatting with Loatman and others attending Fourth Friday. “This is a wonderful event. You have the kids here, the families here and that’s what it’s all about. You see everyone working together and playing together.”

Rachel Green worked with the Millville Democratic Party to remind people of the upcoming primary on June 4. Green, who is working to support Congressional candidate Tim Alexander, said events like Fourth Friday are critical to remind people about voting and the issues, regardless of party.

“This is all about the voters and to remind people that they have a voice and their vote really does matter,” Green said, who attended with Cumberland County Democratic Head Wanda Cortes. “This election is important and picking the right person like Tim Alexander to represent them shows that they have a say.”

Loatman said he has always remained positive about what Fourth Fridays means to the city beyond its organizing ups and downs and he is looking forward to more to come.

“It’s all about doing something positive,” said Loatman, who does Fourth Friday on a volunteer basis while running his busy pest control business Bully Pest Management. “When you do something positive, positive people come out and support what you’re doing.”

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