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Mayor Marchetti ready for final 4th of July parade as Pittsfield Parade Committee president

Peter Marchetti.
Josh Landes
Peter Marchetti.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts is getting ready for one of its most beloved civic traditions — the annual 4th of July parade that dates back to the turn of the 19th Century. This year’s installation includes the traditional marching bands, floats, community groups, and elected officials alongside appearances from 100-year-old World War II veteran Bernie Auge, New England Patriots cheerleaders, a Dumbo balloon, and more. For first-term Mayor Peter Marchetti, it marks the end of his 20-plus year run as president of the Pittsfield Parade Committee. Marchetti spoke with WAMC.

MARCHETTI: So, it'll look like the last couple — actually, last eight years. We will be there bright and early organizing the parade, and then I will hand over my responsibilities to the folks that are actually going to take over going forward, and I will march down the street as mayor and attempt to make my way back to the beginning of the parade route to march a final time as the parade committee president and as the guy who's leading the parade. I'm kind of excited from a music standpoint. We are bringing back the Mummers Band for the third year in a row, and the WhoaPhat [Brass] Band. We have a band, a high school band from Ireland that will be in the parade. They contacted us as they were coming to United States – they’re in Albany. They had two requests, one to go to an American mall and one to march in a 4th of July parade. So, we're honored to have them. And I think for me, after 20 plus years, it's like riding a bike, and so, we'll be there to walk down the street. I probably won't completely disappear from the parade committee's world, as it's a really important day and event for me.

WAMC: Now, what will the next leader of the Pittsfield Parade Committee have to deal with as it continues to move forward?

Well, I think fundraising for the parade is always a challenge. We ran into that back in 2019 and we put the call out, and we did very well in 2019. We were all set at the end of 2019 to put on a parade for 2020, and we know the COVID story. But monies, raising funds for the parade, it's always an issue. I think the other piece is trying to find new, exciting things to have in the parade. I think sometimes we, the people and the years change, but it's basically the same backbone to a parade. And so, trying to find new and exciting things, like last year and this year, we have some Patriots cheerleaders and Patriot, their mascot. Miss Massachusetts has returned to the parade over the last couple years. And, I think for me, it’s, what can we do for exciting things? How do you find things like that? My goal one year was to have Dr. Ruth in the parade, and it was complicated to get there, and everyone thought, why would she want to be in the parade? And July 3rd, she's like, there's a parade in Pittsfield. Can I be in it? And, you know, Dr. Ruth, true to form, embarrassed me that morning, and it kind of was like a teenage highlight relive.

That's incredible. I was about to ask you, if any memories over your long tenure with the parade stand out. Do any stand up there with the Dr. Ruth humiliation moment for memories of your time at the parade?

There are similar memories every single year when the parade committee hits the line of march at the end of the parade, watching the kids and all their excitement, watching the adults. And I think more importantly, you get a glimpse of the kids during the parade, and there's nothing more awesome than watching a five-year-old kid salute the American flag as it goes by.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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