CHATHAM – It just seems to get bigger and more festive every year.
Organizers say the town's gala Independence Day parade will the largest ever, with 102 official entries, not counting the more than half dozen groups that traditionally lead off the procession.
“This is a record,” said Independence Day Parade Committee Chairman Brad Schiff, noting this is the first time there have been more than 100 groups participating in the parade. “This breaks the record set in 2012 during Chatham's 300th celebration.”
For many years, the number of parade participants averaged around 60. Schiff said improvements in parade organization has spiked creativity. “I just think more people seem to want to be participants than ever before,” he said.
All of the parade participants will be ready to step off from the corner of Main Street and Shore Road Monday at 9:30 a.m. Given the three-day weekend, officials are anticipating a huge crowd.
“We will have 2,000 people marching in the parade alone,” Schiff said.
Among the total 109 or so participants will be old favorites like the Chatham Band, Monomoy Theatre, Chatham Health and Swim Club, Yarmouth Minutemen, the Chatham Squire, Pogo Dave and the Cobb Family; last year's first-place winner Philips Farm Family will lead off the entries, following Grand Marshal Ben Goodspeed. “Freedom is not Free” is the parade theme.
This year's roster includes quite a few musical entries as well. The Highland Light Scottish Band will be returning, as will the Cape Cod Fiddlers, the Chris Fitz Band, the Chandler Travis Shout Band and the All Worn Out Jug Band. Popular local rockers Total Strangers will make their first appearance in the parade (at least in recent memory), as will Harwich band Canon Hill and blues band Steve Morgan and the Kingfish.
When the parade hits the reviewing stand – where judges Bob Denn, Catie Barr and Ginny Nickerson will be seated – Broadway actor and singer Eric Riley will perform the National Anthem.
Like last year, the parade route will be extended along Crowell Road from Main Street to Tip Cart Road. That both helped accommodate many more parade watchers and facilitated a smoother flow of traffic at the end of the parade, Schiff said.
In another nod to efficiency, the parade group will hold early check-in for participants on Friday and Saturday. Entrants can get their parade order number in the lobby of the police station on Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A shuttle bus will also be available to participants, running from the Monomoy Middle School on Crowell Road to the corner of Shore and Seaview Street beginning at 7 a.m. the morning of the parade. The shuttle will also be available to transport participants back to the school at the end of the parade.
A map of the parade route, also showing public parking and rest room locations, is available at the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and the group's website, www.chathamparade.com.
“It really looks like it's going to be really creative,” Schiff said. “Residents are really using their imaginations.”
Police have put a number of parking and traffic restrictions in place for the parade. Beginning at 2:30 a.m. on July 4, there will be no parking on the south (town offices) side of Main Street. No chairs will be allowed on Main Street after 2:30 a.m.
No parking-tow away zone restrictions will also be in place on Crowell Road from Main Street to Tip Cart Drive.
Traffic on Shore Road will be one way southbound beginning at 8 a.m. until the end of the parade. The downtown business area will be closed to all traffic at 8:30 a.m. The intersection of Main Street and Crowell Road closes to traffic at 9 a.m.; all inbound traffic will be detoured onto Old Queen Anne and Queen Anne roads. Main Street will reopen to traffic after the end of the parade turns onto Crowell Road.
For traffic updates, check out the police department's Facebook and Twitter pages.
For details and last-minute information, visit the parade committee's website, www.chathamparade.com.
There is no rain date for the parade.