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Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade Coming 'Back With a Bang!'
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:08PM / Sunday, July 03, 2022
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city's historic Fourth of July Parade will return on Monday for the first time since 2019.

Themed "Back With a Bang," the procession will have 164 units.

"We have an arrangement of community groups, floats, fire departments, musical units, veterans organizations," parade Committee President Peter Marchetti said. "And, of course, the balloons."

For this year, the planners want to thank the community for its ongoing support with a grand celebration.

Parade hallmark Miss Cookie Crumple will make an appearance along with the Great Kensington String Band, also known as the Mummers, from Philadelphia. The popular band is known for bright and colorful costumes, big hats, and a strutting style of march.

There will be five helium balloons, three of them being hot air and two cold air balloons on floats.

Barrington Stage Company's retiring Artistic Director Julianne Boyd is this year's grand marshal for the event.

The parade will kick off at 10 a.m. rain or shine at the intersection of South Street and East/West Housatonic Street. It will head north up South Street in the southbound lane, continue up North Street to Wahconah Street, and end at Wahconah Park.

This year's event is being preceded on Sunday by a car show from 10 to 2 on McKay Street and a  Mummers concert at 6 p.m. at First United Methodist Church.  Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Parade Committee.

Also new this year is a laser light show to replace the Wahconah Park fireworks on the holiday.

From the late 1970s to 2020, residents of Pittsfield — and beyond — lined North Street on Independence Day to enjoy floats, marching bands, large balloons, and other parade hallmarks.

Marchetti estimated that it usually draws 25,000 to 30,000 people.

The event fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. With the promise of vaccinations, planners were hopeful that the parade would happen for 2021 but, in May, Mayor Linda Tyer determined that it couldn't be safely held because of the virus.

The parade was threatened by insufficient fundraising about four years ago but in 2019, the committee put out a call for funds and had a great fundraising year that helped it get back into a solid financial position.

The parade dates back to the early 1800s and, in 1947, the Pittsfield Permanent Fireman's Association took it over and ran it until 1976.

In 1978, a group of volunteers held their first parade with seed money from the city and grew to be the committee that runs the event today, meeting most months year round.

It was announced that the parade would return early this year.

The event can cost anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 to put on and relies solely on donations. This year, the fundraising goal is set at $85,000 and about $70,000 has been raised so far.  

Donations can be made through the parade's revamped website, by mail, or through the parade's "bucket brigade" that collects donations in person.

Before the parade, there was a whole weekend of events

For those who cannot attend in person, Pittsfield Community Television will be live video streaming it and Pittsfield Community Radio WTBR 89.7 FM will have a live radio stream.

Marchetti said the community is excited that the parade is returning.

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