By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Months after fireworks kicked off year-long celebrations of Hudson’s 150th anniversary, the town hosted its main event, bringing nearly 1,000 marchers through the heart of town for a parade honoring Hudson’s history and future.
Organized over a 12-month period starting last fall, the parade featured 14 floats spread out over seven sections. In addition to the floats, the parade drew local politicians including state Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow), Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant.
Making it through downtown in just under two hours, the parade delighted onlookers on densely packed sidewalks along Main Street.
“It shows how the people in the town make up a really tight community,” said Kevin Cutler, a youth football coach and driver of the Hudson Youth Football float in the parade. “It’s a really nice place to raise kids and have a family. Hudson’s been a great town so it’s great to see so many people involved in community events like these.”
Alongside the Youth Football float were others honoring aspects both old and new in a town that has undergone major economic and cultural growth in recent years.
“Hudson is the epicenter of where it’s happening,” said Selectman Joe Durant. “That’s a credit to the people who have stuck it out and worked and the new people who have come in and added something to the community. But we’ve never forgotten where we came from and we’ve never forgotten our roots.”
The parade was led by seven lifelong Hudson citizens, – Mary Hellen, Victor and Rosemary Rimkus, Hugo and Sally Guidotti, Allan and Kay Johnson – symbols, Durant said, of the town’s commitment to honoring its heritage. His belief was shared by parade director Brian Stearns.
“You don’t usually see seven grand marshals, but that’s a testament to the respect we have for the people that grew up in this town,” Stearns explained.
The parade included groups from as far as Gloucester while also featuring appearances by the Boston Fireman’s Band, and Dan Clark, a retired Massachusetts State Trooper known across the state as the “singing state trooper.”
It also ran directly in front of Rail Trail Flatbread, the restaurant that, upon opening in Hudson in 2012, drew sudden media attention to the growing downtown area.
Todd Wood, who marched with Avidia Bank, reflected on the structure of the parade.
“Especially with the revitalization on Main Street, it shows that they not only remember what the history was but they’re still looking forward to growing their town and expanding and thinking about what’s coming next,” he said.
Stearns said he and the Parade Committee took businesses like Rail Trail and its neighbors on Main Street into consideration as they planned out the parade. The committee banned the presence of outside vendors, arguing that, without them, the downtown business would flourish due to increased foot traffic.
“You have a lot of different places that would normally make decent business on a Sunday now making double or triple that amount with people waiting for the parade to come through,” Stearns said. “Because of the community growth that’s going on here, we didn’t want to infringe upon their business.”
For many onlookers, the nostalgia of the parade was enough to remind them of what the town was when they first knew it. Yet its backdrop and the size of crowds that gathered to cheer it on turned some of their focus toward the success that Hudson is currently enjoying.
“The town has grown tremendously,” said Eileen Boudreau, who watched the parade while wearing a pin from the 1966 centennial celebrations. “It’s a great place to raise your family. It was great back then, too, but it’s come a long way.”