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Thank you for all of our sponsors that helped make the 4th of July Parade a huge success this year!

See below for the award winners from the parade:

Community Organization
First Place – Sparta Responsible Development
Second Place – Sparta Football and Unified Sports

Best Parade Float
First Place – Ski Hawks
Second Place – Sparta Girl Scouts

Best Color Guard
Sparta High School Marching Band Color Guard

Best Marching Unit
Sparta High School Marching Band

Best Musical Unit
First Place – North Star Theater Company
Second Place – Monterey Entertainment

Best Youth Group
First Place – Cub Scout Pack 150, Troop 150, Troop 1150
Second Place – Cub Scout Pack 295

Best Appearance
First Place – NJ Antique Engine & Machine Club
Second Place – Fredon Volunteer Fire Department

Best Fire Department
First Place – Ogdensburg Fire Department
Second Place – Sparta Fire Department

Best First Aid Squad
First Place – Sparta Ambulance
Second Place – Lakeland

Best Banner Carrier
First Place – Meaningful Melodies
Second Place – Knights of Columbus Marquette Council

Sparta Independent featured the Elk’s Wine and Tasting Night to benefit Brandon’s House.


Over 400 teens participated in the 2024 Peer Leadership Conference on February 2-4, 2024.

Craig Jandoli – YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Craig is a lifelong educator and a dynamic speaker who has an innate ability to get young people to open up and be vulnerable. He empowers the students by letting them know they are not alone in the challenges they face and that they can offer support to one another.

A few words from the Peer Leadership attendees:

I was so grateful to have gone to the Youth Leadership Conference for the 2nd year and it was even better the 2nd time. I loved seeing some old faces and new faces, hearing old stories and new stories. But I always learn something new and walk out a more knowledgeable person. The energetic speakers make me excited to take what they’re saying and do something with it while the more personal speakers make me feel something and I really connect with them and what they are saying. It’s also so nice to be in such a large, diverse group of kids my age who wholeheartedly want to be there and really appreciate what the speakers have to share. As someone who sometimes struggles with not feeling listened to and appreciated, it was such an experience to be vulnerable with strangers that have compassion to understand how I feel, and how they can relate. There was a sense of community among the speakers and the people there that just made everyone so comfortable with each other and there is truly nothing like it. I want to thank NJ Elks, Sparta Elks and the Sparta Municipal Alliance for this amazing opportunity.” – Natalie

I really enjoyed this weekend and believe I got a lot out of it. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference.” – Paula

I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to spend my weekend at the Peer Leadership Conference. I benefited a lot from the program. I was able to learn about new outlooks, ideas, and resources that build my leadership skills. The speakers were great and I loved their passion and enthusiasm towards the topics discussed. Their messages really stuck with me and I feel very motivated about making changes and becoming a better person. I also had a really fun time and I enjoyed the experience I had. Thank you Elks and the Sparta Municipal Alliance for this amazing opportunity.”Brianna

This past weekend I was given the great opportunity to spend my weekend at the Elks Peer Leadership Conference, along with some fellow Girl Scouts and friends. During this weekend I was given amazing skills, and advice from all the conference speakers and I know I will be able to do great things thanks to this conference. I was also able to meet other amazing leaders such as the youth staff and other high schoolers who attended the conference. I had such an incredible experience. Thank you so much to the Sparta Elks for sponsoring me and for believing I can be a great leader.”Amanda

The ELKS leadership weekend was incredibly enriching! I became a lot closer with people I would’ve never otherwise talked to and learned to open up more. It was an incredibly rewarding and fun experience that helped me grow as a person and as a leader. I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity by the ELKS!”Lorayne

“Hi! I had a really fun weekend at the elks peer leadership event. It was my first year but so much fun and everyone was so welcoming. I loved all the speakers and activities they had planned for us. I definitely learned a lot that I will use now and in the future. Thank you to the elks planning staff, youth staff, and you!”Abby

“Hi Mrs.Sandy!! The Peer leadership program helped me figure out what kind of leader I am and how to apply that to my everyday life. It made me strive for change, to really want to make a difference in the world. I made connections and got close with people I never thought I’d meet. It was educational but overall, a lot of fun. I’m not too sure about doing it again next year, just because of how exhausted I was and the girl we met who started choking 😬 It’s not a definite no, so if you somehow have a slot later in the year, let me know and I’ll see how I feel then :)”Brooke

“Thank you so much for last weekend. It was an experience I will never forget with lessons I will never forget. I loved all the speakers’ unique stories and lessons.”Emma

“Thank you so much for this awesome experience. I learned so much from this weekend and I really enjoyed learning all about how to be a great leader to not only my peers, but myself. I loved meeting new people and being able to bond with them.”Leah

“Thank you so much for inviting me on the Elks’ Peer Leadership Conference trip!! It was incredibly fun and I also learned a lot. The variety of speakers had really interesting information to share about their lives and what it means to be a leader. I really enjoyed listening to their inspiring stories, and their workshops were super helpful as well; whether they discussed handling different conflicts (both physical and mental) or how to lead and cooperate with other people. Their talks inspired my friends and I to discuss things we can implement in our school to better our community, fundraising events we can create, and how to better lead ourselves and the people within our lives. I also felt as though the people I met on this trip made it even better. There was this new sense of community among complete strangers of varying backgrounds and standpoints, and we were all able to interact and cooperate with each other during the different activities. I feel like being around such a community increased my willingness to be more vulnerable and make mistakes, and overall boosted my confidence to lead in different situations. Aside from these aspects, the food and hotel were also very nicely arranged and I enjoyed the structured schedule between the speakers and break times. I would love to come on this trip again next year and I hope there’s more to learn!”Zara

Teen group representing Sparta Elks Lodge # 2356 & Sparta Municipal Alliance at the 2024 Peer Leadership Conference.

100 Year Anniversary of Madison Elks Lodge #1465