DoozyDo Parade is ‘love letter to Northampton’

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 09-18-2023 4:02 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The DoozyDo parade will be making a return to downtown Northampton on Saturday, the second time the playfully minded parade will take place in the city.

The parade is organized by Northampton Neighbors, a local nonprofit founded in 2017 and part of a nationwide movement known as “Villages,” which aims to improve the livelihoods of senior citizens in their respective communities. But whereas other village networks often charge membership fees to support the organization, Northampton Neighbors members can join free of charge, with money instead coming from fundraising events — like the DoozyDo parade.

“It’s a joy generator that was especially important last year, because we hadn’t had a Pride parade for a few years due to COVID,” said Mark Karpel, a member of the Northampton Neighbors board of directors and the self-described “grand fromage” (that’s “big cheese” for non-French speakers) of the DoozyDo parade. “It’s also a love letter to Northampton itself. That’s why we’ve chosen elements that are heavily Northampton-identified.”

Participants in the parade this year include the Northampton Senior Center, Historic Northampton, and the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School. Local Girl and Boy Scout troops will also be a part of the parade, as well as members of Art in Motion, a dance group based in Easthampton.

The parade will be led by three “grand-ish” marshals riding in a 1965 Oldsmobile convertible: actress and comedienne Kelsey Flynn, who also took part in last year’s parade, and radio personalities Monte Belmonte and Dennis Lee.

“We’ll also have a lot of our Northampton Neighbors members, including many of our special interest groups like our book groups, food groups and hiking groups,” Karpel said. “It’s an intergenerational mixer, and it’s a way to challenge some misconceptions about older people.”

In addition to raising funds for the organization, Karpel said the parade also was a way for Northampton Neighbors to raise awareness about itself and the benefits it can offer to senior citizens. According to Karpel, Northampton Neighbors currently has 1,500 members, about a quarter of the city’s 65-and-older population.

Services provided by Northampton Neighbors include trained volunteers who perform services such as hosting telephone conversations, providing transportation for short trips, and tech assistance for setting up TV and internet. In addition, several other volunteers lead programs such as hiking trips and organize speaking events. Anyone is eligible to become a member, but only Northampton residents are eligible to receive services.

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According to Northampton Neighbors’ annual report for the 2021-22 fiscal year, the organization drew in $114,800 in revenue with around $70,600 in expenses, leaving $44,000 in net funds. Members made 69% of the total donations, with the remaining 31% coming from businesses, non-members and public and private foundations, according to the report.

The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at 33 Hawley St. and make its way down Northampton’s Main Street. The parade is expected to last an hour and a half.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.

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