By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The theme of the 63rd annual Labor Day Parade is “Marlborough: An Active Community.” And this year's director is from a family whose members have been active with the city's parade for nearly three decades. In a press release, Mayor Arthur Vigeant announced the new parade director: Melanie Whapham.
“Melanie has helped out in the past as her husband, George Whapham, directed the parade for many years,” Vigeant stated. “She was instrumental in assisting us last year with local fundraising and will be a great asset.”
George directed the parade for 27 years, followed by Ed Thurber for the past five years.
“I was planning to help as much as I did last year,” Melanie noted. “When the mayor said they were looking for a director, I agreed to do it, knowing that Ed will still be involved.”
In addition to Thurber, the parade committee members are City Council President Trish Pope; City Counselor Don Landers; Dave Grasso, parks and recreation director; and Trish Bernard, the mayor's executive secretary.
In 2009, George was named grand marshal and rode on a float with Melanie and other family members. Melanie recalled the experience of participating in the 1.8-mile parade with a different perspective.
“The parade seemed shorter when you'se riding in it on a float,” she said. “I also remember looking down 15 or 20 feet and seeing all the people staring up at us. You want to jump off the float and have conversations with these people who are yelling your names.”
Other relatives riding that float were some of their 21 grandchildren.
“The grandkids helped with the parade in a number of capacities,” George said.
Family members have already volunteered to help Melanie this year.
“I told George not to worry about the parade,” she said. “This year, I's the person who worries; he can have fun.”
Melanie has been busy contacting previous parade contributors.
“We'se doing pretty well with both donations and entries into the parade,” Melanie said. “Funds for the operation of the parade are partially a city line item, but the majority of the cost is covered by donations. The appropriation this year in the city budget is $18,000.”
George added, “The city provides enough money to ensure that we'sl have a parade. The additional contributions provides a great parade.”
Among the first contributors were Adcole Corporation, Bolton Street Tavern, Brox Industries, Cunningham Foundation, Knights of Columbus Council 81, Marlborough Savings Bank, Murphy Insurance Company and St. Mary's Credit Union.
Appropriate for this year's theme of “An Active Community,” the Marlborough High School (MHS) athletic department has registered a float with representatives from its sports teams. The Marlborough Recreation Department will also have a float.
Among other confirmed local participants are AMVETS Post 1980, Knights of Columbus Council 81, MHS Marching Panther Band, Marlborough Lions Club and Marlborough Public Schools Music Association.
Being an election year, a number of candidates are expected to march – and they'se likely to apply near the deadline.
“Elizabeth Warren came in very late last year,” Melanie noted. “She was really one of the more enthusiastic politicians in last year's parade.”
The first politician to apply this year was Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. Returning to the parade is 4th Middlesex District incumbent state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough. Also confirmed to march is Carmine Gentile, D-Sudbury, a candidate for state representative in the 13th Middlesex District.
Applications for participants must be submitted by Tuesday, July 15.
“I'sl continue working on donations even past that date,” Melanie was quick to add.
For more information, visit marlboroughlabordayparade.org.