Doll Carriage Parade Continues Long Tradition in Delighting Kids

By Seth Daniel

When one looks for the origins of the Edna Kelly Doll Carriage Parade as part of Charlestown Pride Week, they have to look pretty far back – and even then answers aren’t easy to come by.

“I know it’s at least 80 years in existence,” said Maureen Collier, chair of the Doll Carriage Parade. “Besides the Parade, it is one of the longest-running events for Pride Week. I have tried to find out, but I haven’t been able to determine exactly how old it is. I know a lady in her 80s and she once told me that she was in it as a baby.”

The annual Doll Carriage Parade will take place this coming Saturday, June 11, at the Eden Street Park at 10 a.m. Organizers noted that the new location is temporary due to the Training Field – the usual location – not being completed yet.

“It’s only been temporarily moved because the Training Field isn’t done yet,” said Collier. “It’s been at the Training Field for several years. It was up on High Street many, many years ago. Eden Street will be a nice venue, but next year we’ll get it back to the Training Field.”

The Doll Carriage Parade hit its heyday in the 1940s and little girls would push their best doll carriages while wearing fancy, patriotic red, white and blue clothing.

Now, it has changed a little with the times, but the spirit and fun is all the same.

“Since times have change, it’s changed and is not so much a doll carriages, but people decorate wagons and build floats,” she said. “It’s very, very creative and one of the original events geared towards the younger children. We have children in it whose grandparents and parents are from Charlestown. We have people who no longer live in Charlestown and come back just to be in the little Parade. It’s a time for them to come back and have a lot of fun.”

This year, the Doll Carriage Parade has already seen a lot of registrations. Collier said there are more than 40 registrations and she believed that this year might top 100 registrations.

Last year, she said, there were 80.

The namesake of the parade, Edna Kelly – who is Collier’s aunt, ran the Parade for generations, and her name is now attached to it and her husband, Edward Kelly, is one of the principal sponsors of the free event.

“She ran the Parade for more than 30 years until her death in 2007,” said Collier. “Her husband actually donates a lot of funding for the Parade and he has kept it up in her memory. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be able to give out T-shirts and prizes.”

Collier said her family is actually keeping the tradition alive with the organization of the Parade.

“Edna was actually my aunt,” she said. “When I was a teen, I helped Edna and now my sister, my sister-in-law and I have taken it over. We have nieces and nephews who were in the Parade and are now helping us. It’s a tradition that has been kept alive in the family and there are young people ready to carry the torch from me when the time comes.”

Funding for the event is also provided by Bunker Hill Associates and the Knights of Columbus.

To register for the Parade, contact Collier at (617) 838-0725.

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