By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
NORTHBOROUGH — Dawn Rand was 19 when she began her career in local government.
She took a civics course while she was in Algonquin Regional High School. As part of the class, the teacher had the students attend Town Meeting.
Rand loved it — the atmosphere, how decisions were made, and the interchanges between the Town Meeting Members.
There’s two sides to every story on how people view things, she explained.
“It was always interesting to try to see both sides, and then to try to make your own decision from what you were hearing from other people,” Rand said in a recent interview.
Now, after spending 50 years in local government, Rand, who runs Dawn’s School of Dance, is being honored as the Applefest Grand Marshal. Former Police Chief Kenneth Hutchins will serve as honorary Grand Marshal.
“It’s quite an honor,” she said. “There’s so many deserving people.”
Rand continues decades-long career in town government
Back at the beginning of her career, Northborough’s Town Moderator asked Rand if she would be interested in joining the Appropriations Committee.
She indeed served on the Appropriations Committee until 1993. Rand was the chair of the committee in a particular period when she said Northborough was coming back from a bad time financially.
In 1993, though, she opted to run for a seat on the Board Selectman.
“I felt I would have more input as a selectmen from the very beginning of the budget,” Rand said. “Financial issues seemed to really be what drove me.”
Rand was elected and served as a selectmen until 2020. She’s particularly proud of her work on the Senior Center Building Committee.
“That wasn’t an easy sell,” Rand said. “There were a lot of people who thought, including my parents, that only old people went there and not many old people. Nobody wanted to be old, according to my parents.”
Though she’s left the board, Rand’s career in Northborough isn’t over. Rand is still looking to serve on a committee as vacancies arise.
Board of Selectmen Chair Jason Perreault remembered running for reelection with Rand in 2017 and writing a poem for Rand to promote her reelection
“Twenty years of service on one municipal board is a rare thing. Dawn did it twice: first on the Appropriations Committee, then on the Board of Selectmen,” Perreault said.
Hutchins earns posthumous Grand Marshal nod
Rand had nominated Hutchins, who passed away in July, to be Grand Marshal.
She had many interactions with Hutchins, sometimes talking with him and former Northborough Fire Department Chief Brian Duggan about issues in town over lunch.
“We had a great relationship,” Rand said. “We didn’t always agree, especially when it came to budgets. But Ken respected my view as well as I respected his.”
Hutchins’ son, Aaron Hutchins, had started a campaign for his father to be Grand Marshal in the spring. He knew his father’s health was failing and hoped he would make it to the festival.
When he passed away, Applefest fell off Hutchins’ radar until he was contacted by Applefest Committee Chair Michelle Gillespie.
The news made him happy, but also sad because he wasn’t around to appreciate it.
“One of the things that my dad really loved was interacting with people, and I know that he would have just been over the moon to interact with people at the events and festivities,” Hutchins said.
Applefest is scheduled to take place from Sept. 17 to 19.