CHATHAM — There's no reason to panic, but Chatham's signature summer event is officially in limbo. All five members of the Independence Day Parade Committee have stepped down.
“They served our town very well, and they told us this was a strong possibility,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Cory Metters said last week. “If we don't have enough members to operate that committee, we might have to look at another entity taking over that responsibility,” he said. “We might have to entertain not having a parade next year.”
Metters urged any potential volunteers to come forward immediately.
“We need members desperately,” he said. Potential volunteers are asked to visit the town offices and fill out a talent bank form.
The resignation en masse wasn't any kind of statement, former Chairman Brad Schiff said. The five members' terms were all set to expire, and the friends formed a tightly knit team that decided it was time to allow new volunteers to serve.
“These are volunteer positions. They're not lifetime appointments,” Schiff said. While putting together each year's parade is a large task, the committee gets strong support from the town, he noted. The committee has also created a very detailed blueprint with schedules, budget information and contact lists that will allow any new committee members to get up and running quickly. The existing committee members are keeping up with some of the planning work until new volunteers are in place, Schiff added.
“I'm really looking forward to seeing the vision that the next group of people have,” he said. His advice to his successors is to listen carefully to the suggestions of spectators and parade entrants, who provide valuable advice each year.
Schiff said it is “inconceivable” that the parade would be skipped next year.
“They've had it since 1896, and throughout the years there have been probably hundreds and hundreds of people who have raised their hands to be involved,” he said. “The parade has never been better, it's never been bigger, and it's something that everyone looks forward to.”