Mario DeMartino
Mario DeMartino (Eagle File Photo)

PITTSFIELD -- A longtime health care volunteer and head of the Pittsfield Ethnic Fair will lead this year's Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade.

The parade committee selected Mario DeMartino as grand marshal for the Independence Day celebration.

Committee President Peter Marchetti said DeMartino epitomizes the kind of person who should be recognized before the tens of thousands of people who line the parade route through the downtown.

"We've made a conscientious effort to honor community activists," he said. "In Mario's case, his [biography] speaks for itself."

DeMartino, a physical therapist who ran DeMartino Physical Therapy LLC until his retirement, has served on several boards of local, county and statewide health care organizations. He currently serves on the board at Berkshire Healthcare and Hospice Care of the Berkshires.

DeMartino is a former board member of Pittsfield General Hospital, Pontoosuc Lake Advisory Committee, and the Pittsfield YMCA. Since 2007, he has chaired the annual Pittsfield Ethnic Fair and he organizes the bucket brigade for the parade, helping collect last minute donations from parade-goers.

Volunteerism is a way of life, DeMartino told the Eagle.

"If you live here and ran a business, you should give back to the community through volunteerism," he said. "It's amazing how many volunteers play a role in the Berkshires."

The parade committee also has chosen the late Joanne Hayes as the honorary grand marshal for her years of service to the parade as a longtime behind-the-scenes organizer. She served as the secretary of the Pittsfield Parade Committee for more than a decade. Hayes also volunteered much of her time with the Sacred Heart Parish Council and organized their Holiday Gift Bizarre. She was employed by Berkshire Health Systems until last October.

Meanwhile, the committee is halfway to its $85,000 fundraising goal. As of Tuesday, parade organizers had received $42,500, according to Marchetti, who expects donations to pick up as parade day approaches.

"I think we're on mark compared to last year," he said. "Generally, the last couple of weeks before Fourth of July is more on peoples minds, so we're confident about nearing our goal."

The parade committee is also sponsoring to special events to boost contributions prior to July 4. On June 25, Friendly's restaurant in Pittsfield will donate 20 percent of each patron's check toward the parade, while a concert is being planned for July 3 at Spice on North Street.

The 2014 parade lineup has been finalized with 172 units that includes 20 marching bands and 20 floats in keeping with the theme "Made in America." Marchetti said the Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps and The Mummers highlight the musical talent. Kermit the Frog and the American Eagle are among the five character helium balloons that will glide through the air along the parade route.

Pittsfield's Fourth of July Parade steps off at the intersection of South and East/West Housatonic streets, continues along South directly onto North Street by Park Square, turns left onto Wahconah Street before wrapping up at Wahconah Park.

For more parade information or to donate online, go to pittsfieldparade.com or call at (413) 447-7763.