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S. Hadley River Roll and Stroll brings smiles on a rainy day

  • Kevin Smith, also known as "Tuba Love", plays "Down by the Riverside" with the Expandable Brass Band amid the raindrops at the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) on Sunday, May 6, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michelle Mallory, left, her son Myles, 18 months, and friend Esme Gray, 3, between them, all of South Hadley, play among the giant bubbles that had yet to pop on the wet pavement of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Route 116) during the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on Sunday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Senegalese tama drummer Massamba Diop, top left, shares the stage with Mister G, center, and Casey Ortiz during a joint performance with members of Berkshire Bateria, in foreground, at the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Diop's playing of the tama, or talking drum, is featured heavily in the soundtrack of the recent movie "Black Panther". —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Senegalese tama drummer Massamba Diop performs with Mister G and Berkshire Bateria during the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Diop's playing of the tama, or talking drum, was featured heavily in the soundtrack of the recent movie "Black Panther". —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll volunteers, husband wife William Niedzwiecki and Deborah Decker of South Hadley, enjoy the Expandable Brass Band marching to the center of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) to meet the Desperate Measures Street Band arriving from the Holyoke side just before noon on Sunday, May 6, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kathy Marcinek, who grew up in South Hadley but now resides in Holyoke, plays her baritone saxophone as she "sits in" with the Expandable Brass Band during a joint performance with the Desperate Measures Street Band, seen behind her, at the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) on Sunday, May 6, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kyle Homstead and Cassandra Holden (not shown) were the producers in charge of logistics for the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) on Sunday, May 6, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Members of the Expandable Brass Band, including Ken Harstine, right, march from the South Hadley side of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) over the Connecticut River to meet the Desperate Measures Street Band at the center point for a joint performance during the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on Sunday, May 6, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Juan Vazquez, top, leads a Cardio Hip Hop 413 Family Fitness workout during the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) on Sunday, May 6, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Brothers Ryan and Colin MacGregor, 9 and 7, of South Hadley take turns on a putting green set up on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (Rt. 116) for the second annual Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll on Sunday, May 6, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Monday, May 07, 2018

SOUTH HADLEY — Carefully squeezing out dye from several bottles Sunday, sisters Amalie Martins, 7, and Hazel Martins, 5, both of Belchertown, crafted their own tie-dyed T-shirts — one that will feature a swirl of color, the other a starburst.

Watching the girls create the wearable art, their mother, Rachel Martins, said it was a much-anticipated opportunity.

“We’ve been waiting to do tie-dye for two years,” Martins said.

Despite soggy conditions throughout the late morning and early afternoon Sunday, the Martins family was among many residents from the region enjoying the second Holyoke-South Hadley River Roll and Stroll Street Festival on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, which normally carries mostly vehicular traffic on Route 116 between the communities.

But on this day, the bridge was closed to automobiles for more than four hours, giving an opportunity for people from throughout the Pioneer Valley to listen to music, dine from food trucks and get information from local community organizations, watch hula hooping, cardio hip-hop and Morris dancers, and participate in activities, including a putting green, chalk art and bubble making.

“They’ve gotten their faces painted, ate from the Bistro Bus and did a little dancing,” Martins said of her children, noting that a bit of rain wouldn’t slow them down. “We’re from New England. It’s not snowing and it’s not cold.”

Michelle and Richard Mallory of South Hadley brought their boys, Wesley, 5, and Myles, 18 months, understanding that the Roll and Stroll would be a family-friendly event, with plenty of music.

“They were excited to come and check out the different groups that would be here,” Michelle Mallory said.

Though her family also knew it would be wet, she said they wanted to support a local event, having used the bridge to get to the Barrett Fishway fish ladder several times.

“It’s a cool concept that you can walk over the bridge and interact with different community members,” Michelle Mallory said.

Kelly Gray of South Hadley brought her daughter, Esme, 3, to the event. Esme appeared to get much pleasure from seeing the bubbles made and then stomping through them – and popping them – as they formed on the surface of the bridge.

“I figured we might as well get out of the home for a while,” Gray said. “And how often do you get to walk across a bridge cars drive on?”

Most of the activities at the event were free and organized by Laudable Productions of Easthampton.

Cassandra Holden, a producer for Laudable, said she spent the past year working with the state’s Department of Transportation to get permits and also built collaborations among the police, fire and public works departments in South Hadley and Holyoke.

MassDOT uses the event to promote bicycling and walking, and a small course was set up by MassBike on a section of the bridge for bicyclists.

Kyle Homstead, impresario for Laudable, said even with the rain, most events went on as planned.

One of those called off, though, was the marching bands from South Hadley High and Holyoke High, who had planned to play from their respective sides and then meet at the center of the bridge. Students were worried the rain might damage their instruments.

It didn’t stop others, though.

“The Expandable Brass Band are weatherproof, even with this rain paying us a visit,” Homstead said.

Other acts were also able to get on stage, including a performance by Mister G, a favorite of children, who was joined by Massamba Diop, the Senegalese drummer who had a prominent role in the soundtrack for the recent blockbuster movie “Black Panther.”

Holden said while the precipitation may have diminished turnout, people are reminded that unpredictable weather happens.

“We tell people to bring your sunscreen and umbrellas, as you probably will need both,” Holden said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.