Marlborough – Bands, performers and local organizations are all busy preparing for the 2007 Labor Day Parade. The parade, which has been an annual event since 1952, will step off at noon Monday Sept. 3 at the intersection of Lincoln and Pleasant streets.
This year's parade will run for approximately two hours and draw about 70,000 spectators to the downtown area.
George Whapham, a retired community member, is once again coordinating the massive task of recruiting and organizing bands and floats for the parade. This year will mark the 27th year that Whapham has taken on the leadership role of facilitating the parade.
"I have been around for a while," he said.
Whapham was exposed to music and performance from an early age. He explained that he came from a long line of musicians and that his ancestors actually immigrated to America from England at the turn of the century as a family band.
"I volunteered for the city when they were looking for a person to organize the parade," he said, "and it was something I could do and it was what I was good at."
The parade coordinators are expecting approximately 4,000 people to participate, with 20 floats currently entered into the annual float competition, judged by three professional parade consultants.
"This year's parade," Whapham said, "will feature some really beautiful floats."
Community groups such as the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, karate schools, the schools' art departments, Climate Action Network, the Rotary Club and several other organizations are also participating in the parade. In addition, groups like the Shriners, who create unique floats to fund-raise for burn hospitals, will also be in the parade. This year Whapham is looking forward to seeing the Shriners' floats, because they will provide 14 diff erent parade units.
Get ready for some toe tapping because the town is expecting 23 different bands featuring groups like the American Legion Band from Waltham, revolutionary war fife and drum bands, local favorite high school bands and military bands.
"All my life I have always been interested in marching bands," Whapham said.
Local street vendors will be along the parade route with balloons and toys.
The Labor Day Parade's reputation draws spectators in from all over New England to enjoy the entertainment.
"It is like old home weekend in Marlborough," Whapham said, because it is the weekend everyone comes back to town for a visit.
Whapham described the Labor Day Parade as the city's signature event.
"It defines the city as coming together in a spirit of unity," he said.