CHATHAM – The 122nd edition of the town's Independence Day parade promises to be as big, if not bigger, than any since the event began in 1896, with 101 official entries as of early this week, according to parade organizers.
“We're looking forward to having a great, beautiful day,” said Brad Schiff, chairman of the town's Independence Day parade committee.
Many perennial favorites – such as the Chatham Band, Highland Light Scottish Band, Monomoy Theatre, Chatham A's, Pogo Dave and the Phillip Farm Family – will be back, as well as with more than a dozen new entries. All told, some 2,000 participants are expected to march along approximately 1.5-mile parade route, from the corner of Main Street and Shore Road to Crowell Road and Tip Cart Road.
Estimates of parade viewers have reached as high as 20,000 in recent years.
The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. It will be led by town officials, public safety departments, the Coast Guard and Grand Marshal Spencer Grey, who will ride in a red BMW Z8, Schiff said. Keeping with a tradition begun several years ago, the floats will be led off by last year's grand prize winner, the Bridge Street Buccaneers.
Participating bands cover a wide range of styles and genres, surely something for everyone: the Highland Light Band, Celtic Roots, the Dreamers Dixieland band, the All Worn Out Jug band, Chandler Travis Philharmonic Trombone Shout Band, Canon Hill, Steven Morgan and the Kingfish and the Chris Fitz Band. Brooke Linnell, a longtime member of the Chatham Congregational Church choir, will sing the National Anthem when the parade pauses in front of the judge's stand at the corner of Main and Cross streets. This year's judges are Ginny Nickerson, Don Aikman and Colleen Cronin.
In keeping with the theme “Chatham for the Holidays,” the parade will conclude with a Halloween-themed float sponsored by the Chatham Squire, Santa and First Night Chatham, Schiff said. He urged folks to attend the parade to see how entrants interpret the theme “through imagination, creativity and patriotic spirit.”
He urged participants to take advantage of pre-parade day check-in, which can be done at the police station June 29, 30 and July 1; parade day check-in begins at 7 a.m. on Shore Road at the fish pier. A shuttle bus will take participants from the Monomoy Regional Middle School on Crowell Road to the check-in area beginning at 7 a.m. The shuttle will also be available to take participants back to the school at the end of the parade route. Details and times are available on the parade group's website, chathamparade.com, and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parking is always an issue on parade day, and Chief of Police Mark Pawlina offered the suggestion that spectators who can, walk.
“We encourage them if they are able to walk and are close enough to walk please walk,” he said. “You won't have to worry about parking and traffic.”
No parking areas outside of downtown will be clearly marked. Pawlina urged spectators to use satellite parking areas like the elementary school. “Try to use areas that are a little but farther out, if you can. That will help as you exit the area,” he said.
Parking will be prohibit along Main Street from the rotary to Main Street-Shore Road intersection beginning at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. Parking will be allowed on the north, or Eldredge Library, side of Main Street, but a no parking-tow away zone will be in effect on the town offices side. Parking will also be prohibited on Crowell Road south of Tip Cart Drive to Main Street begin at 2:30 a.m.
No chairs will be allowed on Main Street until after 2:30 a.m.
Shore Road will be one-way southbound beginning at 8 a.m., and the downtown area will close to all traffic at 8:30 a.m. Main Street from Crowell Road to the rotary will close to traffic at 9 a.m.
Main Street will reopen once the parade “makes the corner” onto Crowell Road, Pawlina said. He asked that people be patient leaving town. “It takes a long time to get vehicles out of there after the parade.” He also suggested that drivers not use GPS devices. “They will all give you the same route, and that won't be good for trying to disperse traffic,” he said.
Winners of the parade's nine awards will be notified by Wednesday, published in the July 6 edition of The Chronicle and announced on the parade's Facebook page, and trophies will be given out at the July 11 board of selectmen's meeting, Schiff said.
This will be Schiff's last year heading the parade committee. Selectmen thanked him last week for the time and energy he's expending building up the event.
“I hope others will step forward to help continue the traditions,” said Chairman Cory Metters.