CHATHAM – Juliet Bernstein remembers riding with her family in a horse-drawn surrey so that her mother could vote for the first time, following the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
“I was 7 but it truly impressed me,” she said in a recent email.
Bernstein, who holds the Boston Post Cane as the town's oldest resident, suggested that the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote would be an appropriate theme for this year's Fourth of July parade. The Independence Day parade committee agreed, and set “Chatham Celebrates Women – In Honor of the 100th Anniversary of Women's Right to Vote” as this year's theme.
Parade committee chairman Justin Bohannon announced the theme at Monday's meeting of the board of selectmen.
“The committee felt it was important to honor this very important anniversary,” he said.
Women hold many leadership positions in town, including in municipal government, local businesses and non-profit organizations and donate hundreds of hours of volunteer time. He noted the backdrop of the 19th Amendment provides a perfect opportunity to celebration the contributions of women, both here and throughout the country.
Bernstein noted how long it took women to get the vote and how far they've come since, noting that a woman is Chatham's town manager, the chair of selectmen and women have run the Eldredge Public Library since it was established.
“We still have no Equal Rights Amendment,” however, she noted.
The theme is designed to inspired parade participants in crafting their entries. Entry forms will be available in early March on the committee's website, chathamparade.com. Nominations for grand marshal will be accepted in May and the finalist announced in June. The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 4, at the corner of Main Street and Shore Road and ends on Crowell Road at Tip Cart Road.
“By announcing the theme now, we hope prospective entrants will have plenty of time to design their entries,” Bohannon said. “We look forward to yet another year of clever, imaginative and all around fun floats.” Select Chair Shareen Davis commented that she was “really excited about this year's theme.”
The committee is also adding a new award category this year for the most environmentally friendly entry, Bohannon said. It's part of the group's effort to “green up” the parade. Last year an effort was made to place more trash cans along the route and parade goers were asked to be more conscientious about taking their rubbish with them when they left.