Weather doesn’t dampen spirits at 68th-annual Chesterfield Fourth of July parade



Last modified: Monday, July 06, 2015

CHESTERFIELD — Parade-goers were not going to let a little rain spoil the festivities at Chesterfield’s Fourth of July celebration Saturday.

Armed with raincoats, hats and umbrellas, the weather didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd as spectators cheered on floats and contingents in the town’s 68th-annual parade.

Luckily, heavy rains held off and the few showers that fell where what the Irish would call a “fine, soft rain.”

“Last year it was a downpour, so this is a considerable improvement,” parade organizer Carol Jolly said.

A long-standing tradition in the Hilltowns, the parade draws people from throughout western Massachusetts and beyond.

Adan Muhammad, of Pakistan, said he was at the parade with 24 other Pakistani students visiting the United States through an educational program offered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“This is awesome to see,” Muhammad said. “We are here to study the U.S. education system, culture and politics, so this fits in very well.”

Events kicked off at 7 a.m. with the Chesterfield Volunteers Firefighters Association’s pancake breakfast at the firehouse on North Road. Throughout the morning people meandered through the center of town visiting food and vendor booths, listening to live music, taking in an art show at the Town Hall and feeding animals at a petting zoo.

A few sprinkles fell just as the parade was to set to begin, but they went mostly unnoticed by those gathered to enjoy the event.

Representing the hilltowns in the parade were several politicians including members of the Chesterfield and Williamsburg select boards and State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington. Other elected officials in the line of march included State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, and Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan.

Crowd-pleasers such as the Holyoke Caledonia Pipe Band and the Brass Republic played to cheers and applause, and a large contingent of vintage automobiles was also a big hit.

Parade marshal Lenore Pittsinger was honored with the town’s lifetime achievement award, and Joe Gazillo received the volunteer of the year award.

A chicken barbecue held in the parking lot of the First Congregational Church of Chesterfield followed the parade. While the rain had pick up a bit, it didn’t seem to deter the crowd as they waited in a long line for food.

Michael Martin, his wife Wendy and their soon-to-be-one-year-old daughter Michaela waited patiently as the smell of barbecued chicken wafted through the air, beckoning others to join them.

“I don’t mind a little rain. I grew up in Cummington and this parade was always the highlight of the holiday,” said Martin, who now lives in Pennsylvania. “I didn’t realize just how much was going on in Chesterfield today.”

With plates in hand, some diners took their food next door to the Community Center to eat and chat with friends. Others gathered under the large maple trees that line Main Street to listen to the Heritage Pops Orchestra belt out swing tunes on the Town Hall lawn.

After lunch, fire departments from Chesterfield, Goshen, Westhampton and Williamsburg held their annual fireman’s muster. Members of those departments competed against one another in events such as sprinting to hoses and spraying water at targets, and bucket brigades that saw participants hauling water to the tops of tall ladders. The Goshen department took first place in the competition.

Jolly said parade organizers collected roughly $400 in donations during the parade to benefit next year’s event.

“The parade was a success. We had a good turnout and there was a lot of enthusiasm from both the people in the parade and those that were observing,” she said.


 


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