Published in the June 25, 2019 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — With just eight days until Wakefield’s iconic Fourth of July Parade, the Wakefield Independence Day Committee (WIDC) has issued another plea for volunteers and donations. The WIDC leadership team came before the Town Council last night carrying the familiar parade route donation buckets to underscore the dire need for more donations and additional volunteers.
WIDC Chairman Brian Fox along with WIDC Secretary Amy Braid and WIDC board member Ashley Fox appeared before the Town Council to make their pitch to the entire town about the need for more volunteers and funds for this year’s parade. Amy Braid is also in charge of business fundraising and Ashley Fox is WIDC’s parade float coordinator.
“Unfortunately, we are having a little bit of a down year with our volunteers as well as our fundraising,” Fox told the Town Council. He said that fundraising was down about 20 percent from last year, and last year’s fundraising was less than the previous year.
The volunteer shortage is also acute, Fox said. It takes a minimum of 50 to 60 volunteers to run the show on parade day, Fox said, but as of last night, there were just 29 committed to helping out. Adult volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs, including walking the parade route with buckets to collect donations from spectators, helping to organize marchers at the staging area and helping to park vehicles in the Galvin Middle School parking lot and the Mike’s Gym lot near parade’s end point.
A full description of the parade day volunteer position can be found on the parade web site at julyparade.org/volunteer-positions-parade-day.
In addition, the parade committee is about 50 kids short of the number needed to carry business sponsorship banners in the parade. Kids 8 to 15 years old are paid $25 and given a T-shirt for carrying a business sponsor’s banner for the length of the parade. This year, Fox said, they have also added paid positions for 16 to 19-year-olds to supervise the younger sign carriers.
Fox noted that the shortages of volunteers and sign carriers can have a ripple effect and impact fundraising. For example, he said, if there are not enough kids to carry signs, adult volunteers will have to be pulled from walking the parade route with donation buckets in order to carry the signs. The WIDC has made a commitment to those business sponsors that must be honored, Fox stressed.
Town Councilor Ann Santos asked if she and her fellow councilors could carry donation buckets as they march in the parade. Fox said that he would gladly accept the offer.
Town Councilor Julie Smith-Galvin added that she and other councilors could even help carry sponsorship signs.
“People know who we are,” she said. “We don’t all have to march together.”
Town Councilor Peter May expressed optimism that the town would come through for the parade.
“We have a great town and a great volunteer spirit,” May said, adding that he was confident that donations would pick up.
Fox said that the volunteers carrying buckets typically collect between $9,000 and $11,000 along the parade route. As long as they don’t have to be pulled to carry signs or fill other roles, Fox was hopeful that a significant part of the fundraising shortfall could be made up on parade day.
Town Council Chairman Edward Dombroski termed last night’s appearance by the WIDC leadership “a call to action,” and offered to make a donation on the spot to get the ball rolling. All the other Town Council members followed suit, as did many in the audience, dropping cash into the donation buckets that were brought to the meeting.
Fox said that anyone who can volunteer on parade day should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
This year’s parade begins at 5 p.m. at the Lakeside Office Park. It will travel down North Avenue turning left onto Church Street then right on to Common Street and straight through to Main Street. The reviewing stand is at the Americal Civic Center on Main Street. The parade concludes at the Galvin Middle School.
To volunteer or to make an online donation to the parade go to julyparade.org/. Donations can also be mailed to P.O. Box 1746, Wakefield, MA 01880. Checks can be made out to the “Wakefield Independence Day Committee” and are 100 percent tax deductible.