As the days wind down before the Bunker Hill Day Parade on Sunday, June 14, time is of the essence when it comes to fundraising, and despite the fact that the community has rallied around an online funding effort, Parade organizer Arthur Hurley said this week that more is needed.
“Last year we were in the red $15,000 and all the money we had in reserves for a rainy day were used,” he said. “Last year was the rainy day. We need a big effort here at the last. We appreciate the donations, but this is a $50,000 parade and we still have a ways to go.”
That said, a large piece of the funding puzzle was placed on the board over the last few weeks when a Go Fund Me page on the Internet came through with $12,500 in donations over a five-day period. The effort online came through Kim Mahoney, who heard the troubles with funding and jumped into action with several friends.
“This isn’t about me doing it,” she said. “It’s the community. The people of Charlestown did this and they deserve the credit. We put up the red flag and Charlestown rose to the occasion. We’re over the moon about this. Everyone helped out, old Townies and new Townies, everyone helped.”
Additionally, just today, June 4, Wynn Everett officials, hearing of the funding crisis, announced they will be making a donation through the ‘Go Fund Me’ website.
State Rep. Dan Ryan said he appreciated the Go Fund Me emergency effort and the pledge by Wynn – which he said was part in parcel of being a good business neighbor.
“Reading people’s online quotes reminds us what Bunker Hill Day means to our community as much as our country,” he said. “There were donations from far-away places…folks who cherish the memories as much as being here in person. To me, Wynn’s donation is as much about a kid, with roots in Revere, who understands what this day means to the region. This is as important as a business being a good neighbor.”
Hurley said he truly appreciated Mahoney’s effort and that it is all “new” money that has never been given.
“The Go Fund Me is a miracle this year,” he said. “Kim Mahoney started that and she’s done a great job. That came out of nowhere and it’s been great. The people on Go Fund Me have never donated before. That’s all new money.”
Hurley said a good deal of the cost comes from having bands in the parade, which is a major expense and one that will be included this year as well.
“We have a lot more bands than the average parade and that’s why it costs $50,000,” he said. “We’re going to have all the usual good bands again this year.”
Hurley said another concern was the fact that politicians aren’t marching this year because there aren’t any major elections. Only the Boston elected officials are in the ranks this year.
“We’re going to have a really good Parade and I have some disappointments, but most people probably won’t notice those,” said Hurley. “We didn’t get the Navy Band, which was really disappointing. We don’t exactly know why. We really need more community participation. We don’t have all the politicians because there isn’t a big election. Last year we had all the statewide candidates and the year before we had the mayor’s race. Politicians pay $300 to get in and multiply that by 20 and you have $6,000 we’re missing. Some people don’t like them in there, but I think it’s fine and they fill out the parade. In the end, it’s really going to be a good parade, though.”
Hurley said they will have the Mummer’s playing once again, as well as all of the drum and bugle corps. There are two new pipe and drum corps that will be marching, including a group from New Hampshire and the Irish American Police Pipe & Drums.
A new tradition started last year will also continue at the start of the parade.
“We have a new tradition started last year of playing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ when we start the parade and then have the Charlestown Militia fire off a volley, and then off goes the parade,” he said. “That will continue this year as well.”
Hurley also put a call out for volunteers in the community to help come and line up the parade.
“We need people at Hayes Square to help line up everything and that doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss the parade,” he said. “You can help line them up and then go back to where you watch the parade and have a good feeling you helped get the parade started.”
On a note of history, Hurley said there is just no way to know how long the parade has been occurring – as Charlestown was such a community of parades back in the old days – so much so that one parade couldn’t have distinguished from another.
“No one really knows,” he said. “The first one was said to be 1786, but it was probably the one in 1796, which went from Boston over to Charlestown on the first bridge that existed then. That was the first Dedication Day and I don’t know if they had another parade after that, but Charlestown was parade-happy in the old days. During the Civil War when a unit would return, they would have a parade every time and the dignitaries would come out and follow along. Truly, nobody knows how long this has gone on, but we’re going to keep it going. That’s for sure.”