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Florence Rag Shag parade gets lift from Great Pumpkin and a few scarecrows

The Florence Civic and Business Association, long known for putting up elaborate holiday lights around Florence center, has now set its designs on Halloween.

The Florence Civic and Business Association, long known for putting up elaborate holiday lights around Florence center, has now set its designs on Halloween. Purchase photo reprints »

Florence is known for observing the holidays in grand fashion. Come Christmas, the village puts up an elaborate light display, plans a parade and ferries Mr. and Mrs. Claus about town.

Its annual Rag Shag parade on Halloween draws children from all corners of Northampton. And this year, organizers have stepped it up a notch, with a scarecrow contest and a Halloween-themed light display. As is traditional, Rag Shag marchers will meet at Trinity Row between 5:30 and 6 p.m. to march down Main Street in full Halloween regalia on Oct. 31. The parade heads down Main to the Florence Civic Center, where there is a friendly costume contest and Halloween treats.

And costumes won’t be all that’s on display at this year’s Rag-Shag. The Florence Civic and Business Association kicks off its inaugural scarecrow contest and hoisted up a Great Pumpkin light arrangement above in the main intersection of the village center in recent days.

Scarecrows will be judged and prizes will be awarded in the categories of scariest, most gruesome, and most frightening. (Let us know if you figure out the difference between scariest and most frightening, by the way.)

Participants are invited to bring their scarecrow creations Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to the Florence Civic Center, where they will be displayed through Halloween night.

Registration for contestants is $5. Proceeds go to benefit the Rag-Shag Parade.

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Fate of community center

Anyone who has something to say about what should become of the Florence Community Center is invited to a public discussion planned for next week at the former Florence Grammar School.

The meeting will be held Oct. 29 at 5 p.m. in the auditorium of the community center at 140 Pine St. The meeting is being convened by the ad-hoc Florence Community Center re-use committee and the City Council’s Finance Committee.

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Florence history

The story of Marion Turner,a black, openly cross-dressing nurse, who lived in Florence village will be the focus of a presentation by the Sexual Minorities Archives planned for Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Carroll Room in the Smith College Campus Center.

The event marks the second in the Stories of Our LGBTQI Ancestors series about gender non-conforming people who lived in the area well before the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion that drew widespread attention to discrimination against homosexuals.

Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation Executive Director Bet Power said the information that’s been uncovered by the foundation’s research over the years is a source of encouragement for LGBTQI youth who may be unaware of their community’s history.

“We have a past, we have a history,” Power said. “There have always been people like us.”

Power said that there have been anecdotal and oral histories of Turner and other LGBTQI pioneers that have told and retold in the area for decades, Power said, but the foundation is working to research and collect those stories through archival research and create a permanent collection, possibly for eventual publication.

The lectures are based on research conduced by interns and board members of the through local libraries, historical societies, municipal records, and through back issues of area newspapers, according to Power.

The presentation is cosponsored by the Smith College group Queers and Allies, and will be given by Bet Power, SMEF’s executive director, and Smith College senior Ollie Schwartz.

For more information email sexualminorities.archives@yahoo.com or call 413-584-7616.

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Antique show

Anyone wanting to find a new piece of something old, or may be curious what treasures they already have, are invited to the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School Oct. 28.

The Pioneer Valley Antiques Dealers Association is holding its annual antiques show at the school from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show will benefit the vocational school’s scholarship fund.

Close to 30 dealers from throughout New England will offer a variety of antiques and a pair of appraisers will be on hand as well.

Douglas Kimball, of Kimball Auction and Estate Services will appraise antiques from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and precious metals and jewelry will be appraised by Mark Kendall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The entry fee for the show is $5, children 12 and under will be admitted free.

For more information, call Jerry Fredette at 413-268-7324.

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