Fun on the Fourth: Chesterfield Independence Day parade marks 72 years

View Photo Gallery
  • Paul Lahti of Whately holds his grandson, Henry, 6, during the Chesterfield 72nd annual July 4th parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Goshen firefighter Steve Estelle, right, gets sprayed with water by West Williams, a junior firefighter, during the Chesterfield 72nd annual July 4th parade, Thursday. The firefighters also sprayed willing spectators while walking in the parade. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Florence Community Band performs from a float during the Chesterfield 72nd annual July 4th parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Trevor the Games Man entertains during the 72nd annual Chesterfield July 4th parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A group in the University of Massachusetts Civic Initiative exchange program, including Furqan Ullah, front, of Pakistan, watch Chesterfield’s 72nd annual July Fourth parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Holyoke Caledonian Pipe Band performs during the Chesterfield 72nd annual July 4th parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Mayla Lentner, 2, of Hatfield, holds a flag during the 72nd annual Chesterfield July 4th parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • One boy hops on a pogo stick while another rides a unicycle in Chesterfield’s 72nd annual July Fourth parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Members of Worthington Girl Scout Troop 64807 walk in Chesterfield’s 72nd annual July Fourth parade, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 7/4/2019 3:50:19 PM

CHESTERFIELD — Nearly 1,000 people lined the streets downtown Thursday morning to watch classic cars, therapy dogs and bagpipers march in the 72nd annual Chesterfield Independence Day parade.

It was a scene typical of Fourth of July celebrations across the country: streets lined with American flags, vendors on bikes selling hot dogs and soda, a brass band playing classics like “Rock Around the Clock Tonight” while waiting for the parade to start and families enjoying the small-town charm.

“I grew up on Damon Pond nearby, but I haven’t been here in 20 years,” Becket resident Laurie Laporte said of the parade, which she watched with her sister and her sister’s children. Laporte had been living in Boston and recently moved back to the area.

“Every Fourth, we’d come here and watch the parade and enjoy the barbecue after — the chicken is always great,” Laporte said. “It’s grown since the ’70s and ’80s, but it still has that small-town feel I love. It’s nostalgic.”

Groups from across the region marched in the hour-long procession through Main Road and South Street. Chesterfield Police Chief Edward Murray kicked off the event, followed by groups including the parade marshals, longtime Chesterfield residents Therese Brigley and Scott Carpenter, Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane and bagpipers from the Holyoke Caledonian Pipe Band.  

The parade also included marchers from a local Girl Scout troops, the Hilltown Sleddogs and the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts, among others.

“Segway Sam” — a man dressed as Uncle Sam, riding a Segway and handing out candy — also made an appearance, along with Trevor the Games Man, who walks each year on stilts waving steamers, and a mime who shook hands with spectators and pantomimed scenes in the street.

A group from Bright Spot Therapy Dogs drew one of the most audible reactions from spectators, who fawned over the dogs walking calmly next to their handlers.

This was the third year the parade incorporated a classic car show, according to Chesterfield Parade Committee member Nick Fischer, who has been on the committee for 12 years. Attendance varies from year to year depending on factors like weather and what day of the week it falls on, Fischer said, but can range from 1,000 people, as on Thursday, to about 1,300 people if it falls on a weekend.

Huntington resident Ashley Svoboda ​​​​​​said she has gone to the event every year since she was little; her dad and sister used to ride motorcycles in the parade. Her son, Rhett, who turns 2 this month, takes after the family. “He loves anything with a loud engine,” especially the firetrucks, Svoboda said. 

Also in attendance was an international group of students and professors with the University of Massachusetts Civic Initiative exchange program, many waving flags and taking cellphone video clips.

The Civic Initiative program brings a select group of students, scholars and other participants from around the world to the UMass Amherst campus to take classes in modern politics and public policy, and also teaches them about U.S. culture, according to a UMass website about the program.

Denitsa Hinkova, a political science professor from Bulgaria, was there with the group, watching the parade from the lawn next to the emcee booth. She arrived in the U.S. around two weeks ago, and it is her first time in the country. She said the parade was “interesting” and “great to watch.”

“It gives me a picture of old America and the way people show experiences here,” she said.

The parade was emceed by town moderator and Chesterfield resident Rus Peotter, who has lived in town since 2002. Peotter formerly worked as the general manager for local PBS station WGBY and retired at the end of 2016. It’s a tradition in Chesterfield for the town moderator to emcee the annual parade, he said.

Attending the parade gives people a chance to see familiar faces and get to know more about them, whether residents are riding in and proudly showing off the classic cars that others may not know they have or walking with an area group they’re proud to represent, Peotter added.

“The more I (emcee), and the longer I live in town, the more people I get to know,” Peotter said. “Here, you get to see people in a different light. It’s fun.”




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy