Pittsfield parade organizers reach $85k goal, ensuring a future for 4th of July tradition

A fireman rounder balloon, which stands 30 feet tall and required 18 volunteers from General Dynamics to carry, floats in the 2017 Fourth of July Parade down North Street in Pittsfield. As the city readies to step off Thursday on North Street for this year's parade, the Parade Committee said that the $85,000 fundraising goal has been met, which ensures next year's Fourth of July Parade.

PITTSFIELD — The city's Fourth of July Parade will march into next year, despite funding woes flagged earlier this year.

Parade Committee President Peter Marchetti said in March that if the community did not donate at least $85,000, the 2019 parade would be the last.

As of Monday afternoon, the committee had raised $88,202.

But Marchetti emphasized he hopes those donations will keep coming in.

"This year's efforts were to raise enough money to put on this year's parade, and get back to the old days when we were fundraising for next year's parade this year," Marchetti said.

This year's parade will cost about $60,000, he said, meaning the committee can bank anything in excess of that for next year.

The parade steps off 10 a.m. Thursday, rain or shine.

Tens of thousands from the Berkshires and beyond flock each year to the parade, which has long been hailed as one of the largest in the region. Meeting the same level of expectation has been a challenge as costs incrementally rose, organizers say, citing inflating costs for helium, postage, insurance and travel.

State Sen. Adam Hinds said he's secured a $10,000 earmark for the Pittsfield parade in the state budget.

"This is such a major event for bringing the community together, for bringing people into the community and for celebrating our country," he said.

Losing the time-honored tradition "would really have a detrimental impact on the community," he said.

The parade started losing money in 2010, but the biggest blow came in 2015, when the committee lost more than $15,000 — fundraising brought in $60,223 and costs came to $75,624.

"For the remainder of 2019 we'll be looking at ways to make sure the parade is sustainable in the future," Marchetti said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.