Remembering the Parade
To the Editor,
Over these past several weeks, I met with a group of people who are dedicated to continuing the 249-year-long tradition of having a Bunker Hill Day Parade.
I have lived here my whole life and the Bunker Hill Day Parade has been a part of it since I can first recall. I was about 6 and remember all the excitement happening, and the flag buntings going up all over town. My mom and my Nana Kelly making food and getting prepared for the company that would stop by on June 17. Sprucing up the house, the new red, white, and blue patriotic outfits we would get, or a new dress. It was such a festive time. I likened it to Christmas. I looked forward to it. The end of school, the parade, the carnival!
Yes, an actual carnival with rides and cotton candy and fun would be held either at the old state prison grounds, or near Hoods Milk on Main Street and finally at the Neck Playground in Sullivan Square.
I remember taking a paper bag and running around to the places that distributed the free Hoodsie ice cream cups, or running down City Square and filling another bag with free sugar cones from the Sugar Cone Factory.
Life was simple and safer, and the streets lining the parade route were thick with families. What a town. Yes I am looking through the eyes of a young child.
Once, I actually rode in the parade in a convertible when my dad “Bernie Kelly” ran for Representative. So many of my friends dads were running, too! All good people. I didn’t know what was happening only to smile and wave at the people cheering us on. It was engrained in me that the Parade was a family day, a day to celebrate the military and significance of the Battle of Bunker Hill, enjoy the marching bands, and have fun with cousins and family and friends.
Later, in my early teen years, my father and some of his friends became part of the Charlestown Militia Group, complete with muskets and wearing the colonial dress of that era. They marched in the parade with their wives and families and fired off the loud muskets, scaring dogs and babies. Eventually, it was decided to have an annual reenactment at the Bunker Hill Monument, where the redcoats would march the hill.
Of course the Militia wives had jobs to do. They had to sew make-shift red coat costumes for the volunteers to wear, and my father made my friends and me dress the soldiers up, and pin their felt coats on, sending them off to the Monument for battle. My friends and I still laugh about this sometimes (some of those red coats were really cute).
My Dad was the emcee of the event. I could hear his voice bellowing over the microphone all the way from the Monument to our home on Church Court and knew it was time to walk up and watch the event.
I wish there were more videos of it. I found one on YouTube. But again, it was a memory of Parade Week.
Now time has flown by, I am in my 60s, I have sat back and enjoyed the day without any thought as to the process that went on behind the scene. It has been enlightening. I am simply amazed it happens at all. There are deadlines and permits and searches for bands, and participants and floats and staging of divisions and Chief Marshall selections and fundraising efforts.
I decided I needed to get more involved and try to help with the fundraising. I thought the red, white, and blue wreaths with cards to be hung along the parade route would be another small way to raise funds. I got the go ahead and ordered the wreaths and added two flags for decorations now I needed buyers.
We put the word out and people came through. What I didn’t know was how emotional it would get for me. As people sent in their money and wording for their wreaths I started typing out the cards and saw familiar names of families and friends. So many of them past. So many good people being remembered by their loved ones with the same theme…He loved the Parade or it was her favorite day or God Bless Charlestown.
I actually wept at the number of people who are now gone from this Town, but I believe their spirit will be with us on Parade Day and remember them as you walk by a wreath and see a name.
They were Loved, and they Loved this Town and Bunker Hill Day!
May we enjoy the Day for many years to come.
Hats off to the Committee for their dedication.
Thankful to Residents Who Help Out During Emergencies
To the Editor,
I have always enjoyed our decision to move to Charlestown, and a recent incident reinforced why I feel that way.
On Mother’s Day, some relatives, my husband and I were walking toward Monument Restaurant for brunch when my brother-in-law started collapsing outside CVS.
About a dozen people starting rushing to assist us. One person carrying groceries, a complete stranger, dialed 911 and left his phone with us, so we could communicate with the EMTs. He then left to drop off his groceries. The EMTs arrived within minutes and whisked my brother-in-law to MGH’s ER. He was seen promptly and given an amazingly full work up without delay. Eventually, the diagnosis was dehydration.
I wish to thank everyone who tried to assist us, especially the person who made the EMT call (he came back for phone). We are lucky to live where the ambulances are close by, and we are minutes away from a highly regarded hospital.