History trotted out for all to see at 250th anniversary celebration in Lenox

LENOX — Saturday's 250th anniversary celebration in Lenox was, for many among the hundreds who showed, about history and legacy.

For others, though, it was all about gymnastics and candy.

Those were the highlights for Kaya Rowe, 5, and her younger brother, Solomond.

"These kids live in New York City, and so they don't get to see parades like this," said their grandmother, Dale Drimmer, 74, of Lee.

Drimmer, who sat on a bench across from Ventfort Hall at the parade's beginning, said it's good for them to see what a hometown parade is like.

"Listen!" she said, bending toward the children.

Kaya smiled big at the sound of drums in the distance.

Two police cruisers marked the parade's start. Fifes from the Bluff Point Quahog Diggers, whose band members came from seven states, pierced the anticipatory silence.

Dignitaries such as U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, the parade's grand marshal, came by, smiling. Onlookers waved back, or were they waving away bugs? It was hard to tell.

Over a dozen floats coasted by, as did many mustachioed men in old-fashioned convertibles.

Tanglewood's display was a mock picnic, complete with a live brass band whose members played "Stand by Me." A set of black horses pulled Town Manager Chris Ketchen in an old-fashioned wagon.

Mass Audubon Society members strolled by dressed as woodland animals. Folks from Shakespeare & Company marched in their Shakespearean best.

Parade organizers driving golf carts tossed candy to children as young gymnasts did backflips down the hill. "Jump Around" blasted from a boombox, followed by a basketball-bouncing swarm who, smiling, delivered plates of pancakes to onlookers. That float belonged to Lenox Basketball, and it won top honors from the judges.

Whiskey City wailed as the crowd closed in on Shakespeare & Company for the celebratory ceremony.

"It's a day we're going to look back on with great pride and joy," Pignatelli said as the crowd gathered.

Gige Darey, 90, one of the honorary parade marshals, said the the old-fashioned cars and buggies brought him back. "You have to give them all kinds of credit," he said of the organizers.

Neal took time during the ceremony to remind the crowd of the fact that the town's charter, written in 1767, predates the U.S. Constitution. That serves as a reminder, he said, that many important decisions "happen right here, in settings like this."

"It's a pretty profound lineage we're holding on our shoulders here," Hinds said.

As The Eagles Band played "Stars and Stripes Forever," Select Board Chairman David Roche gave a speech about how his great-grandfather and his grandchildren enjoy the same town, from Birchwood to St. Anne's.

"All would be recognizable by residents of the past," he said. "God bless Lenox and all who live here."

Charles Flint, the lead organizer who volunteered his time, said it took about 12 people two years to bring the day together.

"I really wanted it to be the event that everybody fantasized about for 250 years," he said.

Reach Amanda Drane at 413-496-6296, or @amandadrane on Twitter.


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