Ancients & Horribles tradition continues

Ancients & Horribles tradition continues

GLOCESTER - When it was time to decide who should be marshal of the Ancient & Horribles July 4th parade this year, it was no contest.

The Rev. Charles P. Quinn, retired pastor of St. Eugene parish, was the unanimous choice of the nine-member parade committee, according to Mike DeGrange, chairman. "Everybody on the committee who knows him just fell in love with the idea," DeGrange said.

"Father Charlie," as he is affectionately known, will lead the 88th running of the popular parade - second oldest in the country, next to Bristol, say organizers - when it steps off at 4 p.m. Friday, July 4, rain or shine. The route runs from the junction of Routes 100 and 98, down Route 100 to Route 44, continuing on Route 44 through Chepachet and disbanding at Acotes Field. The parade goes right down Main Street in the newly refurbished village, with brick sidewalks and historic lamplights added in the past year.

Quinn, a native of Providence, came to St. Eugene's in 1997 and accepted early retirement in 2007. DeGrange said Quinn was chosen for the marshal's honor because of "what he's done for the town," in particular his involvement in youth sports, such as coaching soccer. "Everyone loves him," said DeGrange. He also cited Quinn's "ability to be one of us" and not just a priest.

Since its start in 1926, the parade is perhaps best known for the unique way participants - local residents, for the most part - poke fun at celebrities and political issues with sardonic wit. Bands will take part, including the Worcester Kilties, Glocester Fife and Drum, and the Rhode Island Shriners. Large and small floats, walking groups, tractors, antique cars and trucks, artillery units, fire apparatus and a cadre of cops and clowns will comprise the line of march.

Although the Ancient & Horribles parade with its satirical view of the world remains the main attraction, DeGrange's committee is adding extra events to make this a three-day holiday weekend in Chepachet, with a "Battle of the Bands" on Saturday and a "Chef's Challenge" cooking contest Sunday.

More information can be found on the parade's website www.glocesterri.org/parade.htm , but the weekend schedule looks like this:

* The 41st annual road race Friday morning at 9 a.m. from Chepachet Union Church;

* The 88th annual parade Friday at 4 p.m. in Chepachet Village;

* Family carnival, Friday and Saturday (10 a.m.-9 p.m.), Sunday (10 a.m-6 p.m.), BGYSA Soccer Complex, 1407 Putnam Pike;

* Battle of the Bands, Saturday, 4 p.m., at the soccer complex;

* Fireworks, returning after an absence of several years, Saturday, 9 p.m. (rain date Sunday), at the soccer complex;

* Chef's Challenge, Sunday, 3 p.m., at the soccer complex.

Last year, the family carnival, which features amusements rides for children, games, food and more, was held for only one day. This year, it is a three-day event.

"We're really getting the word out," DeGrange said. He noted that, as of late last week, bands were still needed to compete in the "Battle of the Bands," with "cash prizes and opportunities for performance gigs awarded," DeGrange said.

The "Chef's Challenge" could easily flummox the best chefs. Adults must prepare a dish containing bacon, chocolate and apples, while children in the junior division contend with cooking a concoction of cheese, apple and a hot dog. Contestants prepare their dishes at home.

The "Chef's Challenge" is an idea offered by DeGrange's wife, Mary-Beth, who is a parade committee member and the person who most convinced her husband to take on the challenge of organizing the parade last year when it appeared the event might die for lack of volunteers. DeGrange told The Breeze & Observer that he now has a solid committee of nine members, with three alternates. "We're a good team," he said. "We're getting a lot done."