A Glorious 4th!
By Gregory T. Federspiel
Manchester truly shines as it celebrates the 4th of July. By all accounts this past holiday weekend proved the point! The weather cooperated beautifully, events went off without a hitch and residents enjoyed the festivities, especially after having to endure cancelations over the past couple of years due to COVID. From the Red White and Blue Pancake Breakfast at Tuck’s to the Fireworks at Singing Beach to the Town Parade complete with local floats and the yearly favorites, there is much to enjoy as a community.
My own introduction to Manchester goes back some 30 year years prior to becoming Town Administrator. Good friends always invited us to join them for the parade and their 4th of July picnic every year. My young children and I were particularly enchanted by the big wheeled, old-fashion bicycles and the fife and drum brigade. Little did I know at the time that I would eventually come to help manage the Town.
What I have come to appreciate even more in my role is the tremendous amount of work that goes into making the holiday celebrations such a success. There are countless hours of preparations that go into the events involving both Town staff and volunteers.
Nearly every Rotarian has a job to do to make the Pancake Breakfast a success. Our own State Senator and Representative lend a helping hand as well. The Chowder House is a perfect venue for the annual fundraiser. New this year was a water shuttle to and from Tuck’s Point – a great added feature that not only adds to the fun of the event but helps with the parking bottleneck the popular event often can create in the neighborhood.
Fireworks at Singing Beach draws not only most every resident but many visitors as well. Despite the crowds having to arrive and exit through one route, the Police have perfected a game plan that works well. With all hands on deck, officers ensure an orderly flow of cars and people. The Harbormaster and his staff make sure that no accidents on the water occur (despite a healthy number of boats that come to watch the display) and the Fire Department has extra people as well staffing a command center with our trained paramedics at the ready should the need arise. The DPW crews have a long “to do” list to prepare -- from erecting detours and other special signage to setting out extra rubbish barrels and everything in between, not to mention cleaning up afterwards.
The annual parade epitomizes the small-town feel of Manchester. Many homes are decked out in patriotic decorations and residents line the route waiting for the parade to pass by. There is such a great feeling of community spirit and comradery. Professional bands are interspersed amongst home-made floats and local parade marchers – Scouts, old-fashioned bicycle riders, Manchester veterans, and Select Board members to name a few.
The hard-working 4th of July Committee is busy for months raising funds and organizing the parade. Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Marshall spends hours assisting the committee and lining up bands, floats and marchers. She is the behind the scenes “grand marshal” of the parade, as well as the fireworks. Committee members, Donna Brewster, Hope Watt-Bucci, Lisa Watt-Bucci, Ryan Ackerman, Jim O'Neil, Peter Colarusso, Karen Cunningham, Sallie Belle Davis, and Lisa Vince all deserve a round of applause for their dedication and work.
It has become an over-used cliché these days but it truly does “take a village” to organize a successful series of events that mark the Town’s celebration of the 4th of July. While it is easy to take for granted that these events will occur, they are possible because a lot of people put in the time and effort to plan, coordinate and execute. The result is a wonderful set of events that help bring the community together. Especially in these times this feels like such a gift. A big thank you to all who make it possible.