By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
MARLBOROUGH – After last year’s hiatus due to pandemic restrictions, the 69th Marlborough Labor Day Parade took place Sept. 6. About 90 parade units including marchers, bands and floats traveled the 1.7-mile route.
The grand marshals’ float described the honorees as “community health heroes.” Riding on and walking alongside the float were representatives of the Marlborough Health Department and UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital.
Musically leading the parade was the Navy Band Northeast. Based at the Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island, they’re one of 11 official U.S. Navy bands worldwide.
2021 marked the second year that the Navy band accepted an invitation to visit Marlborough from Parade Director Melanie Whapham. Their first was in 2014.
At a July 29 press conference, Mayor Arthur Vigeant announced, “We got a call a few months ago from Melanie Whapham [asking], ‘Is the parade on or off?’ And we said, ‘If you’re running it, it’s on!’”
Her late husband, George, directed the parade for 27 years up to 2008. She helped him throughout those years and later served as parade director herself in 2014 and 2015.
Whapham particularly appreciated this year’s float honoring Marlborough Public Schools (MPS) Food Services. Cafeteria workers rode on a float decorated with signs proclaiming, “MPS is pleased to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students!”
The float drew cheers from parade spectators.
“Cafeteria workers have stepped forward as leaders through the pandemic,” Whapham said. “They’re really excited to be in the parade.”
Favorite returning parade participants ranged from the Marlborough High School (MHS) Marching Panther Band to multiple units of the Aleppo Shriners Clowns based in Wilmington.
Prior to the parade, holiday festivities began with the Marlborough Lions Club’s 39th Labor Day Bed Race on Main Street. Twenty teams of four runners pushed beds to the finish line at City Hall.
This year’s winning team sponsored by Waldron Car Wash consisted of MHS football players Brandon Alfaro, Jake Jones, Jason Knollenberg and Nealon Stemple. Race proceeds help the Lions Club’s ongoing charitable causes, such as providing eyeglasses for those in need of assistance.
After the race, the Lions Club members participated in the parade.
Photos/Ed Karvoski Jr.