PEPPERELL — The closing of the Chester A. Waterous covered bridge does not mean the July 4 parade will be canceled as had been rumored last year, but its does mean the route will change, according to police Chief Alan Davis.
The parade will actually be held on Saturday, July 5th beginning at 12:30 p.m. from Town Hall as in the past. It will continue east on Main St. to the rotary and then turn left onto Rte. 111 (Hollis Street) then left onto Chace Avenue and around to Tucker Avenue. It will disband into the Varnum Brook Elementary School rear entrance.
“We had much discussion about the impact the closure of the covered bridge would have on this event, Davis said. “It was determined by myself and key staff members that maintaining the usual route through the square and ending at the VFW would be a logistical nightmare and could impact public safety.”
He had proposed three alternative routes to the Fourth of July Committee. Last week, members Linda Leland and Jannine Kraus told Davis they had selected the above mentioned route.
A few lifelong residents had approached the press with stories about how the bridge’s closing between 1958 and its re-opening in 1963 had not altered the parade route.
Times are very different, Davis said this week. There were far fewer vehicles on the roads 50 years ago and the town had far fewer residents.
“Then we had about 3,000 people. Now we’re at 12,000,” Davis said. “I cannot close Main Street for three hours.
“For those who question an alternative route and refer or compare our present situation to that of 1958, I suggest they are not realizing the impact (or work) that goes in to accommodating such an endeavor (or how different our community is today).
“I would also bring up the fact there were no parades down Main Street when the Main Street bridge was closed and rebuilt in the mid 1970’s,” the chief said.
In total distance, the new parade route’s length approximates that of what has become the traditional route. If one were to add the length of Hollis Street, Chace Avenue and Tucker Street, the route’s length is nearly the same as that from Town Hall through Railroad Square.
This year and possibly the next, the parade will pass by town field, where most of the Independence Day activities take place.