by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 6/2017
If you have lived in Foxborough for any amount of time, you are probably familiar with the Founders Day schedule. Founders Day begins at 10 AM as the first blasts of the fire engine trucks announce the start of the parade. About an hour later, the parade has made its way to Booth Field, and for the next four hours or so Foxborough-based community service organizations, churches, fraternal organizations, schools, the scouts, and all Foxborough-based groups who help make Foxborough a better place run games, contests, make incredible food, and offer fun for everyone. Then we all go home around four to take care of family things, and we’re all back on the field by seven or 8 o’clock; the band is playing, everyone’s dancing, the field lights up with glow sticks, and a little after nine, the sky explodes in spectacular fireworks. By 945 or so, Founders Day is over and we all leave, happy to once again have celebrated our town in such a beautiful way.
THAT is the schedule most of you are familiar with – BUT… as you as you might suspect, the schedule and process of creating that day takes jusssssssssssst a little bit more time than that.
After everyone goes home after the fireworks, the Founders Day committee volunteers clean up the entire field, breaking down the stage and tents and collecting as much garbage as possible.
The next morning, while you are likely still sleeping, basking in the afterglow of another successful Founders Day, the committee is on Booth Field around sunrise, thoroughly combing the entire area for any remaining trash so that all of the sports and activities that Sunday can continue.
Throughout summer, bookkeeping is done, bills are paid, and the committee takes a well-deserved break. By September, this small group of volunteers is again meeting at least monthly. What will be next year’s theme? How much will everything cost? And 1000 other logistics that no one else even knows about – it all needs to get done.
After the holiday season and into January, the committee is still meeting once a month and conversing by phone and email and in person frequently. By March, the parade forms and field forms and other documentation are all prepared, and events begin to ramp up. Applications to be in the parade flow in and must be processed. Same with the field – all those applications have to be processed. Then comes the organization – what will be the order of the parade? Who goes where on the field? Donor letters are sent out, donations are solicited. And also, there are about one million other questions that need to be answered to make the day run seamlessly.
And as we all know, life has a way of throwing monkey wrenches into the best laid plans of mice and men and Founders Day committee people, and all of those surprises also need to be dealt with.
By May, the committee is meeting weekly and then things begin to really ramp up – publicity, late forms, surprises, the annual Memorial Day weekend rocket drive to fund the fireworks…
Then things get REALLY crazy. The weeks before, the committee is in overdrive as as all of the last-minute preparation and tasks are completed – most of the committee will get very little if any sleep between Friday night and after the fireworks Saturday.
On Founders Day itself, the committee will be running at warp factor nine, giving new meaning to the word multitasking, all ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
That a small group – and I must emphasize it is a small group – of VOLUNTEERS put this amazing birthday party on for 17,000 of us each year – well, there really are no words.
Except: THANK YOU.
I think we are all profoundly grateful that new people – new blood – stepped up to be part of the Founders Day committee this year. There was a real danger that they would not be a Founders Day 2017 because so many committee members have been doing this for far too long, and new members were desperately needed. Thankfully, people stepped up. Our beloved town birthday tradition continues on Saturday June 10, 2017!
I will now take questions.
“Hey Bob, how can I help?”
I would like to make the following suggestions to you regarding the town’s birthday:
- First, if at all possible, make a donation. Any amount will be accepted gratefully. Founders Day is all volunteer, and funded by YOU. Send your tax-deductible check to Foxborough Founders Day, 40 South St., Foxborough, MA 02035. You’ll be helping support the fireworks, and the event itself – you help make it possible.
- If you are a member of a community service organization, church, school group, a local society, a club, – in short, if YOUR group is participating in Founders Day, when they call you to ask for your help – being part of parade, helping out on Booth Field, assisting with the doll carriage Parade, or anything else – please say yes. This is a COMMUNITY event. Be part of that. Support YOUR group, your child’s school, your organization – but say yes when asked to help.
- Go to the parade. Sure, you may have seen it 20 times – but it’s always someone’s first. It’s exciting – it’s exhilarating. Speaking for myself, walking in that parade with my Jaycee friends, tossing candy to the kids, waving to everyone – it is a feeling of absolute euphoria. Everyone in the parade feels the same way. In the parade offers something for everyone – bands – incredible floats – cars, trucks, local officials, fire and police cars with the sirens blaring lights flashing, the incredible marching bands and color guards, all the historical groups – our military, and so much more. They put so much effort into this parade – be there to cheer them on.
- It is Ok to say NO to helping — and still support the day! Just come down and be part of it. A few years back, I remember talking to a friend who told me she didn’t enjoy Founders Day anymore — because she was always asked to help – and she had helped, for many, many years. But now, as a mom of teenagers, she wanted to make it a family day. To just the enjoy the day — And I told her, you have put in your time – you’re supporting Founders Day another way – you are here, enjoying it with your family. It doesn’t have to be work – come to play!
- Whenever you see someone in their yellow Founders Day shirt, thank them. On the day itself, don’t be surprised if they seem a little preoccupied or not focusing on what you’re saying – each of them is juggling hundred details in their head and operating on very little sleep. But the thanks is always appreciated.
- Consider volunteering to be on the committee for next year’s Founders Day. They can always use more help
- Visit the official web site often — http://www.foxboroughfoundersday.com — for everything you need to know about the day. The site is updated constantly, and all breaking news will be published on the site the day before, and the day of should anything change. Perfect, sunny weather has already been ordered – but in the unlikely event of inclement weather, the website – with a Founders Day Facebook page – are the places to go for your latest updates.
- Speaking of the website, did you know there are over 1000 pictures from previous Founders Day events? Also, you can watch Bob Hickey’s outstanding interview with town historian Jack Authelet — Jack’s love of his hometown, his knowledge of its history, and his contributions to Foxborough are legendary. In this interview, he explains the full history of Founders Day – I learned a lot! And Jack has been named as the Grand Marshall for the parade this year – while he said is humbled by the honor, his service honors us. You can also watch that video on Foxborough Cable Access itself – http://www.fcatv.org
- You can help in small ways. If you see a donation jar for Foxborough Founders Day around town, drop in your small change. Maybe you could be a little more vigilant on Founders Day of making sure to pick up any trash you see. After the fireworks, please help by cleaning up your space. It reminds me of signs I see in New Hampshire – leave only footprints, take only pictures. You will make the job easier for a lot of people who will be up before sunrise cleaning.
If you ask random people who live or work in this town what makes Foxborough special, invariably the response is that we are a COMMUNITY, there is a true community spirit here, and we take care of each other. Founder’s day – like so much else in this town, does not happen magically. It happens because of dedicated volunteers, working behind the scenes to make this – our hometown – so very special.
In 1934 Judy Garland film, “Meet me in St. Louis,” the following exchange takes place between an adult and little girl at a fair:
Mr. Neely: [about St. Louis] “It’s a grand old town.”
Tootie: “It isn’t a town, Mr. Neely. It’s a city. It’s the only city that has a world’s fair. My favorite. Wasn’t I lucky to be born in my favorite city?”
I think about that quote every now and then – I wasn’t born here in Foxborough. But wasn’t I lucky to move here – and make my home – in my favorite town?
On Saturday, June 10, 2017, come to the town’s birthday party. You once again have the opportunity to join 17,000 of your closest friends along the streets around Foxborough Common, and on Booth Field, and celebrate this remarkable place we all call home.