Lee Library exhibit features images of parades of the past, dating to 1873

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LEE — Call it a step back in time.

The Lee Library currently has on display images featuring the 1895 Masonic Celebration, Massachusetts 300th anniversary and 21 years of Founders Weekend processions.

"Lee Loves a Parade," in the J. Peter Scolforo Gallery, features 110 frames of nearly 200 photographs dating back to 1873 of bands, floats and other units that marched through the center of town to mark milestones in local and state history.

The majority of the photos on display through March are from the library's historical collection as well as those on loan from community members, according to Lee Library Association president Mary Philpott.

The photos show how Lee parades, the town's landscape, Lee Fire Company and the snapshots themselves have evolved the past 140 years.

"Because everyone now has digital photos, it was fun going through the hard copies to decide which ones to show," Philpott said.

Unveiled during a recent opening reception, the exhibit begins with select photos from the late 1800s and steps chronologically through the first half of the 20th century, including the "Bay State Tercentenary Parade" of 1930. The library association also showed the rarely seen short film of the tercentenary event, which library officials hope to post on their website soon.

Not depicted, but well remembered by one longtime resident was the coming home and subsequent patriotic parades following victory in Europe and the Pacific some 70 years ago.

"I remember the ones with veterans after World War II — all the children were cheering," said J. Peter Scolforo, whose name graces the library gallery.

Mike Hayes recalled his younger Lee days of marching in hometown parades.

"With Knights of Columbus and the Boy Scouts, that was quite a few years ago," said Hayes, 86.

Lee's last special occasion parade occurred in September 1977 as the town celebrated it's bicentennial, a year after American honored 200 years of its Declaration of Independence.

Today, Lee has two annual parades: Memorial Day in May and, since 1995, on Saturday of Founders Weekend in late September.

The parades are staged along Center Street and step off at the corner of Main and Center, proceed to Main and Park, turn left and bear right onto Housatonic Street, ending at near the Lee Athletic Field on Founder's Weekend.

The Memorial Day parade continues to left on Fuller Street finishing at the town cemetery to honor Lee residents who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The routes much shorter than earlier parades as show in the tercentenary event in which the parade begin and end at the Lee Athletic Field, looping through the town via High Street, Center, Main and Park and back onto Housatonic.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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