New leaders, new ideas for Glocester's traditional parade

New leaders, new ideas for Glocester's traditional parade

GLOCESTER - Now in its 87th year, and one of the oldest traditions around, the Ancients and Horribles July 4th parade features two new additions this year in an effort to increase interest in and revenue from the venerable holiday event.

Those additions are a day-long children's carnival behind Town Hall and a battle of the bands on the Chepachet Union Church grounds.

Also new are the honorary marshals this year, Edna Kent and Rose Lavoie, leading members of the Glocester Heritage Society.

The parade is scheduled to step off at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 4, on Main Street in the village of Chepachet and promises to offer its usual blend of hearty patriotism and biting satire, marked by floats and marchers displaying a decidedly informal homemade touch. There is nothing pretentious about this parade.

More than 1,000 spectators were reportedly drawn to the event last year. The parade is best known for poking fun at politicians and celebrities. An unforgettable example from several years ago saw a young man in a bright red Raggedy-Ann-type wig driving a kiddie bumper car that kept smashing into things, a dig at former Congressman Patrick Kennedy shortly after he drove his car into a barricade in Washington, D.C.

Michael L. DeGrange chairs a 12-member committee organizing the event, working with another 20 or so volunteers, he said. He apparently has been able to restore considerable local interest in the parade because just a few short weeks ago, town leaders were frantically searching for volunteers to put the event together.

"The entire committee is working very hard," DeGrange told The Valley Breeze & Observer last week. "The big push right now is if we have enough musicians who want to enter the battle of the bands. We also need help with our sound system, an expert sound guy. Someone looking to help out with that would be great."

A children's carnival with kiddie rides, games and food will be held behind Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., put on by Amron Family Fun Fare, of North Scituate. The idea is "to make it more fun for the little guys," meaning kids, DeGrange said, and hopefully raise revenue to support future parades and bring fireworks to the event.

The parade costs about $20,000 to put on and is now supported mostly with town funds, DeGrange said. "It usually costs $21,000 to $25,000, but we're going to do it for a little less," he added. He intends to expand fundraising efforts in the future because "my goal is to make this parade self-sufficient," DeGrange said.

If there are enough entrants, a battle of the bands will be held in the afternoon on the Chepachet Union Church grounds, open to area talent. Two local eateries are the sponsors, Cady's Tavern and the Nutty Scotsman Bar & Grill, but DeGrange said he would welcome more sponsors. As prizes, Cady's will offer the winners two performance gigs at its tavern and Nutty Scotsman will present gift certificates to the victors.

Parade awards are given for, for instance, the most horrible truck, best decorated bicycle, classic car, most politically incorrect entrant, the most patriotic, and the best-in-parade. To be considered for awards, entrants must be registered and can register the day of the parade between 9 a.m. and noon at the Town Hall lawn. More information is at www.glocesterri.org/paradereg.htm#participant .

Also new this year is a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ahparade .

Commenting on the parade's 87th year and how amazing it is that it has lasted so long, DeGrange quipped, "hopefully, we'll get to 100 soon."

Connie Leathers led the parade committee for many years, but she moved away from Glocester about two years ago. Last year, two volunteers took over parade duties with the understanding someone else would take over this year. DeGrange is active in the community, having served on several town boards. A former town councilor, he is president of the Fogarty Memorial School PTO and an active member of the Knights of Columbus.