GLOCESTER – A lack of leadership and a dwindling volunteer base could be the death knell for Glocester’s annual July 4th Ancients and Horribles Parade after 86 consecutive years.
The Ancients and Horribles Parade Committee, which has seen many of its members resign or lose interest over the years, no longer has enough voting members to hold a legal meeting, which means there’s a real possibility there will be no parade this year.
“Everyone loves the parade, but only a few want to put in the time and effort required to keep this beloved tradition alive,” says Town Clerk Jean M. Fecteau, who fears the parade, famous for its mix of patriotism and irreverence, may have finally reached its end unless more volunteers step forward.
The parade, which attracts thousands of spectators to Chepachet every Fourth of July, first wound its way down Main Street in 1927. It has been held each and every year since. The parade features traditional Fourth of July floats and marchers, such as veterans and fire trucks, as well as irreverent and satirical displays commenting on political and cultural issues, as local residents and costumed marchers parody news and cultural events.
The parade committee, which organizes and oversees all parade-related activities such as fireworks, fundraising, grants, vendors, and bands, was led for many years by Connie Leathers, but she moved out-of-state after the 2011 parade following several years at the helm.
Last year, two volunteers took over the role of co-chairing the parade committee in order to prevent its demise, but they did so with the understanding that someone else would do it this year.
“Now we have reached the eleventh hour and no one has stepped up to take over the job of chair for this year and the committee no longer has enough voting members to hold a legal meeting,” said Fecteau, adding that planning for the parade is usually well underway by now.
Each year the committee has repeatedly advertised the need for more volunteers and voting members, but the response has been disappointing, she said.
The Parade Committee includes nine voting members; one alternate voting member; and unlimited ad hoc non-voting members. Right now, there are only four – maybe less - voting members left on the panel.
Fecteau says there’s still time to save the parade and that one of the chairpersons from last year’s parade committee is willing to provide ongoing guidance to anyone who is willing to step up and take on the challenge. Candidates must be a registered voter to be a voting member of the committee, but anyone can volunteer and they are always needed.
“My goal and the goal of the Town Council is to have a parade this year,” she said. “It may be a smaller parade, but there will be a parade.”
For more information on how to help, contact the Fecteau’s office at 568-6206 ext. 0.