Sweat equity precedes Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade

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PITTSFIELD — Hinsdale feels right at home in the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade.

Last year, Hinsdale Dayz took home the trophy for best float, after finishing third in 2017. On Thursday, the community organization will be participating in its fourth parade, looking to repeat its winning ways.

The volunteer group of about a dozen people has become very adept at creating a float that wows the judges and the tens of thousands of people who line the parade route, according to group chairwoman Carole Forward.

"We put a lot of work into the float; planning, designing, building, hand painting," Forward said. "We started building [this year's] float on Monday, and we'll be putting the finishing touches right up to just before the parade."

Hinsdale Dayz joins 15 other area businesses and organizations entering floats in one of the region's premier July 4 celebrations.

Nearly 180 units that include veterans groups, fire departments, community and civic groups, floats, 16 marching bands, public officials and four helium balloons are scheduled to step off at 10 a.m. The patriotic procession begins on South Street at East, West and Housatonic streets, travels along North Street and veers left onto Wahconah Street, ending at Wahconah Park.

"The Berkshires — Past, Present and Future" is the theme of this year's parade.

"We have a lot of floats focusing more on the past and present than the future," said parade committee President Peter Marchetti.

Hinsdale Dayz might have one of the few forward-looking floats.

"All I can say is, part of it deals with the future of kids," Forward said.

Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski has the honor of being grand marshal, shortly before he retires this month, after a 32-year career with the Fire Department, the past nine as its chief.

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If you can't view the parade in person, Pittsfield Community Television has broadened its broadcast options for the two-hour event.

For those watching via the streamings at PittsfieldTV.org, PittsfieldParade.com and Facebook.com/PittsfieldTV, the parade will be available in high-definition video for the first time, according to PCTV Executive Director Shawn Serre.

The broadcast begins with a preview show at 9:30 a.m. that can be heard on WTBR-FM. PCTV began managing and operating Taconic High School's former radio station this year.

"In addition to the many new local voices on the air, we continue to look for opportunities to bring great local programming to listeners. The chance to broadcast Pittsfield's Fourth of July Parade to listeners on WTBR was something we just couldn't pass up," Serre said in a statement.

Regular television viewers can find the parade on Spectrum cable channel 1301 in Pittsfield, Richmond, Dalton, Lee, Lenox, Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Sheffield, North Adams, Adams, Clarksburg and Cheshire.

The Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade already is a success this year, surpassing its $85,000 goal for the first time in several years. The latest tally is nearly $99,000. In March, the parade committee said failure to reach that funding mark could spell the end of a long-standing Berkshire County tradition.

The current tally of $98,808.54 in donations is more than enough to cover this year's expenses of $60,000, according to Marchetti. He says the remainder will help replenish the depleted cash reserves used the past six years to make sure all parade bills were paid.

Marchetti credits stepped-up fundraising efforts by businesses, individuals and outside organizations that staged a music bingo, dinner dance and, most recently, a Rock the 4th concert featuring several local bands.

Parade planning and participation also have received a boost this year.

"We're better represented because the right message got out there. We have new parade entries and new volunteers on our committee," he said.

Raising close to $99,000 to date hasn't stopped the parade committee from seeking donations up to and well beyond July Fourth. Before the procession, volunteers carrying 5-gallon buckets will fan out along the crowded parade route seeking cash contributions. Parade organizers also welcome year-round donations.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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