Fourth of July Parade

Issue Date: 
June, 2020
Article Body: 

Natick’s 4th of July parade is one of the latest in a long line of cultural comforts to fall prey to the Coronavirus quarantine. The summertime staple is a popular town tradition, though one doomed by the current ethic of social distancing.
The approximately mile-long parade is very well-attended, with hundreds of spectators lining the route in close quarters.
The decision to cancel was made April 23. Peg Waters is president of Natick Friends of the 4th., a volunteer, nonprofit group that works to organize and raise funds for the parade.
Waters took over as president of Natick Friends in February of last year, and took to rebuilding the group from the ground up.
“We started from scratch,” she said. “It’s a completely volunteer thing.”
Composed of a small cadre of dedicated organizers, the group recruited more volunteers and began their outreach in earnest.
“It was a group of eight strangers,” who wanted to see the parade happen, said Waters. “And we just basically pulled it off.”
With Waters at the helm of Natick Friends’ efforts last year, the town rallied to raise the funds needed to put on the parade, shooting for its $25,000 target. A vanguard of volunteers held small, in-person drives and online outreach; local businesses were brought on board, bolstering the bottom line with donations.
The work paid off, with the total tally for last year’s parade tipping the scales at just over $30,000. Surplus funds were earmarked for 2020, but alas, that was not to be. This would have been the event’s 65th year.
The group usually begins its organizing and fundraising efforts in January of the parade year, and had collected about $2,500 up until they decided in late April to cancel the 2020 event. That may seem like a slow start, but Waters said that most who donate don’t end up actually giving until much closer to the event.
While organizers of the parade are volunteers, many participants are not. Contracts are signed with various costumed superheroes, music acts, and other characters that make up the parade of performers that put on their southward spectacle down Natick’s Main Street on July 4th.
Waters said she hopes some of those acts will find places in other local parades, though it’s hard to envision a safe way for masses of spectators to participate in such an event in this current Covid19 environment. Natick Friends had been in touch with Milford parade organizers to talk shop and compare notes, though that town too cancelled their event early in May.