CHATHAM – Former selectman and long-time service station operator Ben Goodspeed has been named as the marshal of this year's Independence Day parade.
Goodspeed will lead off the parade riding in a 1954 Willys Jeep, according to Independence Day Parade Committee Chairman Brad Schiff.
“Well over 90” parade entries have been received for the event, which attracts thousands of people to Main Street every year, he said, adding that participants are finding many creative ways to reflect this year's theme, “Freedom Is Not Free.” There are more musical entries this year, he added, including popular local band the Total Strangers and Cape Cod blues band Steve Morgan and the Kingfish. In all, there are more than a dozen new entries in this year's parade, Schiff said.
Goodspeed is well known in town for his years as a town official and the quarter century he operated Goodspeed's Gulf, which was located at the former Cumberland Farms store on Main Street. A resident for most of his life, he joined the Chatham Band at age 14 and is still an active member. He served in the Air Force during World War II and was a member of the town's fire department for many years. He helped transport survivors from the wreck of the Pendleton on the night of the famous rescue portrayed in the film “The Finest Hours.”
Schiff said Goodspeed demonstrated his commitment to the community by hiring local students, off-duty Coast Guardsmen and summer baseball players at the station. He also served on the town's finance committee for many years and on the board of selectmen.
The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on July 4, starting at the intersection of Main Street and Shore Road. Last year the group instituted early check-in for parade participants, and some 80 percent took advantage of it, Schiff said.
“It really relieves congestion on parade morning,” he said.
This year participants can check in and get their parade order number in the lobby of the police station on George Ryder Road on Friday, July 1, from 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturday, July 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Parade morning check in will begin at 7 a.m. for numbers one to 33; at 7:30 for numbers 34 to 67; and at 8 a.m. for 68 and above. Parade check in closes at 8:30, Schiff said.
Also like last year, there will be a shuttle bus for parade participants. It will begin running between Monomoy Regional Middle School on Crowell Road and the corner of Shore Road and Seaview Street at 7 a.m. The shuttle will pick participants up at the end of the parade at Lake Street.
Last year the parade was extended another one-third of a mile along Crowell Road from Main Street, and that extended route will be followed again this year, Schiff said.
“It had a very positive impact. It gave more viewing room for thousands of spectators, it relieved the congestion that always occurred at Main Street and Crowell Road, and helped ease the traffic at the parade's conclusion,” he said.
A map of the route, as well as public parking locations, is available at the Chatham Chamber of Commerce, and will be posted on the parade website, chathamparade.com.
This year's parade judges will be Bob Denn, former owner of Cape Fishermen's Supply; Monomoy Regional High School valedictorian and class co-president Catie Barr; and Chatham Angel Fund and artist Ginny Nickerson. The National Anthem will be sung by Broadway performer and Chatham summer resident Eric Riley.
Parade awards, to be give in nine categories, will be presented at the July 12 board of selectmen meeting and will be announced in The Chronicle's July 7 edition. The June 30 paper will include a full list of parade participants.
Finally, the parade committee has doubled the number of port-a-potties along the route.
“That's probably the most important improvement,” he commented.