The Battle of Bunker Hill Parade this year will be a combination of celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the American Legion Post in Charlestown – with dignitaries from all over the country marching – as well as celebrating the Town with some fun new entries for the kids.
The Parade begins to line up mid-morning on Sunday, June 16, and will have a brief ceremony in Hayes Square with the National Anthem, a ribbon cutting and a volley shot from the Charlestown Militia. The Parade will step off at 12:30 p.m.
“We have the national commander of the American Legion coming in to march in the Parade and that’s really big for us,” said Parade Coordinator Arthur Hurley, who is working on his 48th Parade this year. “We have a lot of new stuff – giant balloons. We have a lot more characters that will be in the Parade too. A contingent of women in the Town are doing a float called the ‘Spirits of Charlestown.’ We’ll see what that’s all about…It’s always good to remember this is the Battle of Bunker Hill Parade. We are commemorating those who fought and died on Bunker Hill. We’re also celebrating Charlestown.”
The Parade this year is dedicated to the late Bob Gillen, a long-time Navy commander who grew up and lived in Charlestown. He was also a key member in planning the Parade for many years after his retirement from the Navy.
He passed away in July 2018.
His brother Moe Gillen will be riding near the front of the Parade in honor of Bob Gillen, and that’s likely to be a very special moment for many on the route – particularly in the St. Martin Street area.
The American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad will be a key member of the Parade contingent, marking the national 100th anniversary of the Legion and the 100th anniversary of the J.W. Conway Post in Charlestown.
The American Legion contingent will be marked by the color of their hats – with red being national figures, white for the department (like states) heads, and blue for the local Legion.
Hurley said there will be a military general, General Malone, marching as well.
“He’s head of the Natick Labs,” said Hurley. “We haven’t had a general in a long time.”
This year the Parade route will remain the same, but the reviewing stand has been moved back to the Training Field. After the route was altered a few years ago, the stand moved up to Monument Square – with it being on the steps of the Monument last year.
The strong contingent of bands will be in place this year, with one new entry in the drum and fife category.
A new re-enacting troupe to join the legions of re-enactors in the Parade will be the Bristol County Fife and Drum from Rhode Island.
The elected officials have all entered the Parade, with the incumbents and many of the at-large candidates having a presence as well. As of this week, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley wasn’t scheduled to march in the Parade.
Hurley gave thanks to USS Constitution XO John Bender, who has filled in valiantly for the late Bob Gillen (who was once a commander of the USS Constitution).
The route will begin to be blocked off in the morning on Sunday, and towing from the route will be in force.