Red, white and blues: Chesterfield Fourth of July parade canceled

  • A boy rides a unicycle in Chesterfield’s 72nd annual July 4th parade last year. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

CHESTERFIELD — The town’s streets will be much quieter this coming Independence Day as organizers have canceled the 73rd annual Fourth of July parade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s the one time we all turn out and kind of brag about our town and then send everybody home,” Ed Severance, chair of the Chesterfield 4th of July Parade Committee, said Friday. “So we’re all kind of broken-hearted.” 

Severance said the decision to cancel this year’s parade was made after consultation with the Select Board and the fire department. Parade committee members felt it would be too difficult to maintain social distancing with the parade’s attendance — last year, the town’s celebration drew nearly 1,000 people.

The event is also a huge fundraising opportunity for nonprofits in town to help get them through the year, Severance said.

Every year, the volunteer fire department has a pancake breakfast, the First Congregational Church has a chicken barbeque, and the town’s Senior and Disabled Tax Relief Committee has a table set up for donations on the day of the parade. “We won’t just miss the parade, we’ll also miss the opportunity we get from the parade to raise money for nonprofits in our town,” he said.

The parade has been going on so long that the only preparatory work is hiring entertainment, such as bands, magicians, balloon artists and stilt walkers, as well as contacting dignitaries, because “everybody else just shows up,” Severance said. 

“I want to make sure that everyone knows that we’re not doing anything this year,” he said.

Committee members were hoping a month ago that the current public health crisis would pass by quickly and that they could still put on an event, but eventually realized restrictions due to the virus will likely “be with us for a while.”

But this is not the end of a Hilltown tradition, Severance said, as organizers of the event still plan to have a parade next year.

“There’s a lot of upsetting things going on right now, and we’re just one of them,” Severance said. “The important thing is everyone is there next year to attend it.”