VFW organizes lively Labor Day parade

If there were any fears that Milford’s Labor Day parade isn’t what it used to be, they were laid to rest Monday.

For almost 90 minutes, a huge assortment of floats, bands and marchers came down Elm Street, passed Town Hall and went over the Stone Bridge before finally stopping at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and the Boys & Girls Club.

Milford’s is said to be the largest Labor Day parade in New Hamp­shire, and on Monday, thousands of people filled the Oval and lined the route, starting at West Street, where the parade stepped off at Milford High School.

This year’s theme was "Education," and several organizations carried through with the theme, including the Milford Garden Club, which built an elaborate, flower-bedecked float inviting everyone to "Learn to Garden."

Along with churches and political organiza­tions, there were floats from the Milford Middle School’s award-winning recycling club and SPIN, a support group for single parents.

Nearly a dozen bands, including the lively Trombone Stompers, contributed to the festive atmosphere. Members of the Souhegan Valley Cho­rus sang as they marched and drew smiles with a seemingly naked man surrounded by a shower curtain and a sign that said "Do You Sing in the Shower?"

Midway through the parade, there was a brief ceremony on the Oval as Town Moderator Peter Basiliere recognized lo­cal first responders and representatives of the armed forces.

After the parade, there was a college fair in the VFW parking lot, where college and military recruiters had set up booths.

Gov. Maggie Hassan marched as the parade’s grand marshal, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, her oppo­nent in the U.S. Senate race, shook hundreds of hands.

VFW Post 4368 puts on the parade every year. Cmdr. Steve Sears said he was inspired to hold the college fair this year after a Milford student re­ceived a $60,000 scholar­ship from the Air Nation­al Guard last year.

"I invited every institu­tion of higher learning in New Hampshire," he said. "(Former Cmdr.) Doug Bianchi and I put our heads together and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ "

Along with military recruiters, Keene State College, the University of New Hampshire at Man­chester and Plymouth State University were also represented at the parade.

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