Politicians, groups at Labor Day parade

MILFORD – Four presidential primary hopefuls marched with their respective gaggles of supporters through a sun-drenched downtown Milford on Monday, joining marching bands, military groups, various colorful floats and representatives of other political and civic movements for the 66th edition of the town’s traditional Labor Day Parade.

GOP candidates Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham and John Kasich, along with Independent Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, took part in the roughly one-mile trek amid cheers, slogan chants and occasional jeers mixed with applause, that punctuated the rolling festivities for about an hour and a half early Monday afternoon.

Veteran observers noted a somewhat smaller than normal turnout this year, likely caused, most said, by the searing heat that bore down on participants and visitors alike. While the latter could seek out precious shady spots, the marchers themselves were at the mercy of where the route took them.

As is tradition, a number of attendees donned hats or T-shirts bearing their chosen candidate’s name or image or displayed stickers or carried balloons handed out by their respective campaign people. Others, like 2-year-old Vivianne Canty, made their patriotism known in non-partisan fashion.

In Vivianne’s case, she rode in a bright red wagon adorned in red, white and blue, which also provided shade as her mom, Amy, towed her to their vantage point.

"It’s actually left over from the Fourth of July," Amy Canty said, referencing a "decorate your wagon" contest that she and Vivianne entered on that holiday. "But we figured it’s also appropriate for today, so here we are."

At least two New Hampshire incumbents – Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte – also marched on Monday, occasionally drifting to the sidelines to exchange greetings or shake hands with onlookers.

Each presidential candidate was approached by a CNN reporter and videographer as they made their way along the east side of the Oval at Middle Street. Placard-toting supporters took the opportunity to chant and cheer for their man or woman, and nobody seemed bothered by the slight delays the candidates’ rolling interviews spawned.

Some also paused long enough to honor autograph requests and "work the crowd" whenever possible.

A pair of causes not directly tied to a particular candidate were well-represented on Monday.

Members of the N.H. Rebellion, a grassroots, campaign finance reform group, marched alongside a small float from which executive director Dan Weeks, a Nashua resident, railed against big money in politics through a microphone surrounded by large green trash bags marked with messages such as "big donors" and "private interests" while a large banner asking "How Much is That Politician in the Window," a take-off on a 1950s Patti Page song about a dog in a window.

Also taking center stage for a time was the anti-pipeline movement, as a large number of spirited marchers, led by a group of children dubbed "The Kidz of the Pipeline Resistance" and involving scores of pipeline opponents carrying "no pipeline" slogans drew plenty of attention.

Youth sports programs, such as the Milford Mustangs, took part, and there were sightings of characters like Darth Vader and R2D2. Town bands from Amherst, Temple and the Cheshire County town of Nelson marched and played, as did other bands like the Amoskeag Strummers and a pipes and drums outfit from Worcester, Mass.

Several military color guards, some accompanied by bands, took part, as did local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.