Milford Labor Day Parade marches on
Thursday, September 5, 2013
MILFORD – As the wife of a truck driver, Marcy Kelsea knows that life can mean a lot of hard work.
It’s people like her husband, she said– the truck drivers, mechanics and custodians of the world– that keep the rest of the country moving.
But too often, Kelsea said, people forget was an integral part these laborers play.
“They’re people who work very hard for a living, and they’re the ones who keep this country going,” she said. “It’s important to take a day to remember that.”
That’s why Kelsea is glad that Milford’s Labor Day parade went on as planned on Monday, in its 67th year bringing together workers, military groups, community organizations and state leaders to march from the high school to the Veterans of Foreign Wars building.
The parade had plenty going against it this year: less interest among locals in marching and fewer floats entered, plus bad weather that left parade viewers drenched with rain one minute, listening to thunder the next, and then watching the sun peak from behind the clouds.
But come 1 p.m. on Monday, and crowds were lined along the streets of the Milford Oval as usual, kids waving to fire trucks and police cars that drove by, holding tight to giant, colorful balloons, and grabbing for candy thrown by parade walkers.
The Milford Labor Day Parade is one of the few remaining in the state. It started after World War II and evolved into a magnet for national and state politicians. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney marched in 2007, and Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Annie Kuster marched this year.
Around the time of its start, teams of friends and neighbors would get together over evenings and weekends to create elaborate floats for the parade. There would be bands from all over, horses and antique military equipment.
But parade organizer Brendan Philbrick, whose father, Robert Philbrick, ran the parade for many years, is dealing with a different world now.
In 2011, he saved the parade after the Veterans of Foreign Wars announced that it didn’t have the money to put it on. And this year, only a few floats had signed up in advance of the parade.
Still, visitors of the parade Monday said they were just happy to see that the town tradition was still around. The parade’s theme this year was Celebrating Freedom.
For John and Pat Modrich, of Tyngsborough, Mass., the parade has become a tradition for the last couple years, after their teenage daughter started marching in the parade with the Naval Sea Cadets.
“It’s a great little town parade,” Pat Modrich said. “I was glad to see it again this year.”
The Modrichs said that the crowds seemed smaller this year, but blamed the attendance on the rain. They got to the route early, setting up canvas chairs and bringing along books to read while they waited for the event to start.
For Milford children Maddox and Ellyanna Newton, going to the parade with their grandmother meant getting their faces painted, like a lion and a cat, and choosing a balloon to tote around for the afternoon.
The marching bands and the candy tossed out by parade walkers, they said, are the best parts of the parade.
Joining local emergency personnel on the route were members of the VFW, American Legion and other military and veteran groups.
Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts also marched in the parade, along with the Milford High School marching band, various other bands from surrounding communities, and groups from local churches.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association also marched, representing the local union chapter.
Kelsea, who has lived in Milford for more than 25 years, said she goes to the parade each year, and she wasn’t expecting this year’s to disappoint.
The key, she said, is keeping the event around to honor American’s workers.
“I’ve always loved parades,” she said. “And there’s not much around today for families to do that doesn’t involve electronics. This is a nice chance to get outside, stretch your legs.”