Sanders stops by 71st annual Milford Labor Day Parade

MILFORD – A Souhegan Valley tradition marched through the center of town Monday as the 71st annual Milford Labor Day Parade attracted a large and excited crowd.

While some spectators arrived early in search of the perfect site to view the bands, floats and marchers passing by, those actually participating in the parade gathered at Milford High School even earlier to check in and line up. Many locals look forward to this event, which is one of Milford’s most storied traditions, and one of the largest such events in New England.

“I think it’s a very unifying event for all the (town) residents and area residents,” spectator Kari Bremer said.

The parade kicked off at 1 p.m., marching down Elm Street toward the reviewing stand on the Oval. Meanwhile, people – young and old alike – crowded together at the edge of the curb to catch a glimpse of the festivities, as participants continued making their way to the Milford Veterans of Foreign Wars Post where the parade concluded and freshments were served.

Despite the on and off drizzle of rain, people turned out in the center of town to partake in this small-town tradition. While some wore ponchos or huddled under umbrellas, others happily stood outside to watch on as marching bands, clowns and more passed them by. While some were relatively new to the parade, other community members remember coming out decades ago, including Lee Wilson, who said he and his wife have attended more than 20 Milford Labor Day Parades. Like many, he agrees this is a tradition in town.

“We saw Bill Clinton one year, right here in Milford,” Wilson recalled.

Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 in New York City, and now, more than a century later, the 2019 holiday marks the 125th anniversary this day has been celebrated as a national holiday. The holiday itself stems from the labor movement, and pays tribute to the contributions of workers who have devoted their time, energy and efforts to the well-being of the country. The day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers from coast to coast.

On Monday in Milford, many turned out at the center of town, including a special guest who filtered through the celebration while walking in the parade. While a wave of political groups made their presence known at the end of the parade, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was leading the pack, shaking hands and taking selfies with bystanders along the way.

“There’s always a lot of politics involved in it,” spectator Savanna Dion said. “I think that it’s definitely something that’s good for the community to get out and see.”

Her husband, Steven, agreed it’s good to see everyone out and about, and said it also is nice because the Oval area of town gets blocked off, which he views as a bonus because there is less traffic. In any event, they and their two children, Juleena and Jorgia, picked out prime real estate for viewing on the side of The Oval.

When Sanders passed them by, a horde of other representatives from other candidates followed along, including groups representing Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, John Delaney and even Vermin Supreme.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.