(Host) Today and in the coming weeks, VPR will explore the “Sounds of Vermont” and what they mean to us. This week we look at the community parade. The Vermont Department of Tourism estimates that some 170 different parades will be held this year across the state. While the themes may vary, the underlying feelings, memories and emotions that parades conjure remain constant for many of us.
VPR’s Nina Keck produced our story.
(Keck) Rutland throws its biggest parade on Halloween. In Westmore, they parade their boats on Lake Willoughby. In Brattleboro, it’s the heifers that do the strolling. But in Brandon, and in countless other communities across the state and across the nation, the biggest parades coincide with Independence Day.
(Sound of the Rutland band playing “Grand Old Flag.”)
(Montage of voices of parade-goers.)
“Hi, I’m Cindi McTaggert. I love a parade – everyone loves a parade. I think it goes back to, for me, growing up. Everybody went to the Fourth of July parade. I couldn’t wait to get my bicycle out. Decorate my bicycle with crape paper and balloons and whatever. In my town we had a contest for those little bicycles. And it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without a parade.”
“Hi, I’m Warren Kimble. Brandon Vermont – one of Vermont’s biggest parades. I think it’s just fun. I helped coordinate the parade for years and years and we’d spend the whole year working on it and I think that’s part of the fun too. Not just the hour, or the hour and a half it takes, but the preparation time that’s so enjoyable with the people that are on the committee.”
(Sounds of people cheering, band playing.)
“Hi, I’m Donna O’Malley. When I think of parades, I just think of kids. Well I think parades are all about community. Coming together and seeing people you know and cheering them on and celebrating whatever they’re out there for. Whether it’s the float that they made or the event that they stand for. Or the person that they’re standing for. So, for me a parade is all about community.”
“My name is Anthony Polina and I’m campaigning and parades are great places to get to know people. People are out, they’re ready to have a good time, they’re ready to say hello. It’s really a community thing and it’s really nice to be here because it’s a good way to connect with folks. I like the bands in parades – I do like the bag pipes and the horns. They kind of hit you in the pit of your stomach and really sends me back to when I was a kid and the parades came right past my house. I really enjoy the music.”
(Sound of bag pipes playing)
“My name is Kelly Weigand and this year I’m actually the chairman. It makes me a lot nervous, often. You have anxiety moments and highs and lows. Making sure that you have remembered all the details, the port-a-potties, the handicap parking, the dumpsters and that the town’s clean after the event. And everybody is generally pleased with the aesthetics of the town, and the way we come off as a town . Well, you always get goose bumps, so I think that brings you back every single time. I think just the opportunity to see people in town and what they’re doing. The floats always draw people, the bands draw people. I well up with tears every time I see a parade. We have a Memorial parade too which is on a smaller scale, but cry hysterically through it too because it’s just so fun.”
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck along the Brandon parade route.