MITT ROMNEY’S PRESENCE in the Independence Day Parade on July 4 greatly increased both the number of participants and spectators. Sharp eyes will spot the Presidential Candidate just above and to the right of the Wolfeboro Casuals sign. The flatbed truck carried the national media pool and Molly the Trolley carried members of Romney’s visiting extended family. (Sandy Martin photo) (click for larger version)
July 12, 2012WOLFEBORO — Mitt and Ann Romney have marched in the Wolfeboro Independence Day Parade many times in the past, but this year, with Mitt Romney the presumed Republican nominee for President, their presence had a major impact on the parade and on those who came to Wolfeboro this year both to participate in the parade and to watch it.
With the Romneys this year came not only a pool of reporters and camerapersons from the national media, but a small army of security personnel from the Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and N.H. Marine Patrol, as well as state and local police. The number of Republican marchers in the parade increased by a factor of four, according to one estimate, and the New Hampshire Obama campaign ran an e-mail campaign that attracted as many as 100 extra participants to an impromptu "Wolfeboro loves Obama" contingent.
The result was by far the largest July 4th parade to date, not only in the number of marchers, but also in the number of spectators lining Main Street. The parade itself lasted one hour and 51 minutes by this reporter's watch – not an all-time record, but close to it.
Up to 30 of those minutes came from Romney's effort to make contact with as many people in the crowd as possible. Together with U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, who is rumored to be on his short list of potential vice presidential candidates, Romney greeted and shook hands with supporters all along the parade route, accompanied by unsmiling Secret Service agents who kept the crowd at bay while scanning for potential troublemakers. Fortunately there were no troublemakers, and the overall atmosphere was upbeat and positive.
While at least one of Romney's sons and several of his grandchildren marched with him in the parade, most rode in Wolfeboro's Molly the Trolley, which followed Romney along Main Street and then picked him and Ann up and brought him to the quad at Brewster Academy after the parade for an impromptu speech.
The Parade Marshall leading the parade just behind the color guard was WWII veteran Henry Maxfield, Sr.
This year's theme, chosen by the parade's long-time organizer, Harold Chamberlin, Commander of American Legion Post 18, was "Welcome Home Our Returning Heroes." Entries in the parade were judged for how well they presented that theme as well as the imagination and skill that when into their preparation.
The parade judges this year were Laurie Jones, Paul Kerzner and Zac Tufts.
The parade is organized into three groups or divisions, and prizes are awarded for first, second and third place in each group. In addition, trophies are also awarded for novelty, and there are trophies awarded by the Commander and Parade Marshall as well as an overall Grand Prize of $100 contributed by the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce.
In the First Division (Business and Commercial) First Place went to The Traveling Wolfeburys, a band based in Franz Haas's music store, The Folk Cellar, that played stirring ballads consistent with the parade theme. Second Place went to American Legion Post 18 and Third Place went to Citizens Bank.
In the Second Division (Clubs and Organizations) First Place went to the Lakes Region Detachment of the Marine Corps League, which marched with its own color guard. Second Place went to the First Christian Church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary with a float presenting a depiction of the face of the church building. Third Place went to the Wright Museum, which set a new record for the number of WWII military vehicles entered, in addition to its popular Jimmy Durante-themed float.
In the Third Division, which include the Republican and Democratic party entries, there was only one prize awarded, First Place to the Wooden Nickels Band. The American Legion does not support any political candidate or party and thus none of the political entries were eligible for prizes.
In the Novelty category, First Place went to the Diver-Assisted Suction Harvester pontoon boat entry jointly owned the towns of Moultonborough, Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro and sponsored by the Lake Wentworth Association. The float featured "Mr. Milfoil" who shook his fronds at spectators.
Second Place in Novelty went to the Moose Mountain Jazz Band which provided rousing music from a vintage flatbed truck parked in front of Avery Insurance before the parade started. The band performance was jointly sponsored by American Legion Post 18 and Garwoods Restaurant.
Third Place in Novelty went to Citizens Bank, which fielded a number of vehicles and children, including a young man who held a sign proclaiming "Happy Birthday America!"
The Commander's Trophy went to the Lakes Region Detachment of the Marine Corps League.
The Marshall's Trophy was awarded to American Legion Post 18.
The Grand Prize and check for $100 was presented to The Traveling Wolfeburys.
This year we publish no fewer than 65 photos of the parade, taken by this reporter, friend and artist Sandy Martin, Elissa Paquette, Heather Terragni and Josh Spaulding. In addition to the two on the front page, additional photos may be found on pages A10-A13, B12 and C8.