Memorial Day parade

... a behind the scenes look as the parade is planned

by Florence Shea

I think it’s safe to say most people enjoy watching a parade. Did you
ever wonder how it was put together? This year I volunteered to be a member of the
2012 Melrose Memorial Day Parade committee.

Meetings are held weekly, with the first being about three months prior to the
parade. At the first meeting volunteers were given a copy of the letter that was
sent to all veterans, both personally and to their organization, as well as a parade
participation form. The chairperson has a list of groups (both civic and community),
by type, that will need to be contacted. For each type  there is a detailed contact
list showing name/address and phone for each group on the list.

For example I volunteered to call the local churches, so one of the names on my list
was Rev. Mark Ballard, St. Mary of the Annunciation, 46 Myrtle St., Melrose. A
committee member will volunteer to call those on their group list to ascertain if
they wish to participate in the parade. If they say “yes”, the following information
must be obtained: number of marchers (both adult and children), size/type of
vehicle (if any) and will they be handing out anything such as candy or flags as
they march. The responses are entered onto the parade participation form which will
be needed when the lineup is prepared. The completed forms, including the name and
phone number of the individual to whom you spoke, are returned to the chairperson as
backup. The Mayor’s office sends out letters to the politicians. The Police and Fire
Departments and Department of Public Works are also contacted to coordinate street
closings, keeping the Fire Department exit clear and post parade cleanup.

About a week before the actual parade date, the lineup is prepared. On parade day
various volunteers will assist with driving the trolleys with veterans, parking,
keeping participants in their correct positions and pass out flags along the parade

Will I volunteer again next year? Maybe, but no decision need be made until next
year. I will say it has been a very enlightening experience.

May 4, 2012

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