Candidates turn out for Amherst parade

AMHERST – The theme of Am­herst’s July Fourth parade was "New Hampshire Firsts," and for Jeb Bush, the parade was definite­ly a first.

Bush’s older brother, the for­mer President George W. Bush, had marched in Amherst parades past. In fact, Annie Elliott served him Blue Bell ice cream at her house near the parade route, she recalled excitedly as she waited for Jeb Bush on Boston Post Road.

Now among the leaders of the pack in the race for the GOP nomi­nation, Jeb Bush definitely drew the most enthusiasm from crowds that lined the Amherst parade route Saturday. He was there with his son, George Prescott Bush, the Texas agricultural commissioner.

Another Texan running for the GOP nomination, former Gov. Rick Perry, was there, too, and so was South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Gra­ham and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Bush and Perry also had plans to make the Merrimack parade later in the day, and Hillary Clin­ton was in Gorham.

Navy veteran Jeffrey Sherman, a virtually unknown Republican presidential hopeful from Mary­land, also marched, as did people from the campaigns of Clinton, Ted Cruz, Martin O’Malley, Rand Paul and Carley Fiorina.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wasn’t there, but representing him was a man driving an old blue bus with chickens inside and a loud­speaker that played Bob Dylan’s "The Times They Are a Changing" and "Blowin’ in the Wind."

There was no sign of Marco Rubio or Chris Christie, who marched in Wolfeboro.

Gov. Maggie Hassan marched and so did U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte. They joined local dignitaries on the Village Common grandstand for speeches, the Pledge of Alle­giance, the singing of "America the Beautiful" and, finally, the naming of citizen of the year, by the Amherst Lions Club.

The honor went to Goerge Bow­er, who has served on the Plan­ning Board, Conservation and Recreation commissions and who has been "a role model of integ­rity, hard work and passion" for the town’s youth, as Scout leader, Souhegan School Board member and track and field coach.

Parade organizer Nancy Head said she was delighted with how the weekend festivities, which included fireworks Friday night, shaped up.

"There are a lot of happy people here … and the politicians have been wonderful," said Head, who has been doing the job for 16 years.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or at kcleveland@ cabinet.com.