Would Chatham still be Chatham without its iconic Independence Day parade?
Would the absence of the event make the July 4 holiday just a little bit duller for a whole lot of people?
The recent resignation of all five members of the Independence Day parade committee, however, leaves a large void that needs to be filled. No doubt, it's a lot of work putting together the event, which has grown in recent years under the careful curating of the group to include more than 100 entries and some 2,000 participants. Chairman Brad Schiff, whose organizing abilities transformed a relatively informal operation into an event that ran with almost military-like precision, said the en mass resignation was not a statement, political or otherwise. The tight-knit group decided it was time for new volunteers, new ideas and new energy.
Recruiting volunteers for town committees can be difficult. But while the parade committee meets year round and has an intensive few months leading up to the event, it isn't burdened by the kind same sort of dry policies and rules under which other committees and boards operate. Its goal is to create something of joy, not to regulate or recommend. As Schiff said, it's inconceivable that the parade won't be held – it's been a summer highlight since at least 1896 – but someone has to step up to the do the job.
And it's not as if it requires reinventing the wheel. The committee leaves a detailed playbook for putting on a parade, complete with budgets, schedules and contacts that should make stepping into the role relatively painless. It will require work, however, and dedication. The reward is the gratitude of the community and the smiles along the parade route.