2011_founders_day_parade_049By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 6/2011

Founders Day is here again!

The annual day-long celebration of our town’s birthday starts as you drive through Foxboro at 8:45, 9:00am, and people are already putting out beach chairs, staking out the best viewing spots. Business owners and employees are opening windows and doors, hovering, getting ready for the event. The police begin closing roads. The crowds thicken. There’s real anticipation in the air. Something special is about to happen.

Founders Day seems to bring everyone out, and there’s that wonderful feeling of community — so present all year anyway — amplified exponentially on this day. Friends and families gather. Teens take advantage of the roadblocks by skating freely in the streets around Foxboro Common. Babies cry. Parents take family pictures. Camera and camcorders are everywhere. Neighbors chat. Kids run around, laughing.

And then at 10 sharp, you hear the fire engine sirens, and another Founders Day parade is under way. The glistening fire engines — both from here and neighboring towns — bring cheers and the children waving from inside bring smiles. The police vehicles do the same.

The days – and weeks — of hard work are evident in so many of the floats.

The kids from the karate school, in full uniform, stride purposely. I’m always somewhat in awe of ten year olds who can seriously injure me. But seriously, the kids look so proud.

There’s the Van-Go and the Senior Center folks. We are so fortunate to have Council on Aging. There’s the Doolittle Home van. Another Foxboro gem, a wonderful residence where seniors live in dignity. What a treasure Doolittle Home is.

Here are the town Selectmen. I like how they always march every year — their presence in the parade is a nice reminder of our town government working so closely with the people.

Throughout the parade, Veterans in uniform march by us. Can we ever thank them enough for their sacrifice? (Have you thanked someone you know in the service recently? Do it now.)

Here comes the Civil War society. They fire their weapons and get everyone’s attention. Also impressive. And the Minutemen in Colonial uniforms, such a poignant reminder of our nation that began in that revolution.

Each school has a float, and they all show such hard work and creativity. I love the great work the kids do.

The marching bands go by — it must be very difficult to walk in formation AND play an instrument with such skill, but they make it look easy. So many marching bands, flying their colors, marching in perfect step – it’s awesome.

Here are the trolleys —  imagine using them to get around town! Do the kids in Foxboro even realize this was the preferred mode of transportation here years ago?

There are the folks in little cars and lawnmowers – love that.

There’s birthday wishes – God bless them for bringing happiness to kids.

There are the Girl Scouts. Boy Scouts. Cub Scouts, So much pride coming from those young faces! So much promise and enthusiasm from such little people! The future suddenly feels in good hands.

The Jaycees. The Rotary. So many fraternal and community organizations — all so happy to be part of this community, making a difference every day.

Then, seemingly in a blink, the parade is over and half of the town’s population is on the Booth Playground field.

I can see that folks are doing great business at their booths and that makes me very happy because I know firsthand the good those proceeds to these organizations will do throughout Foxboro.

It seems like every organization and club in Foxboro is well represented. It’s a well-worn cliché but Founders Day on Booth Fields truly offers something for everyone. I still get the giggles when people are buying poop deeds but it is a great fundraiser. There are pony rides. Bouncy tents. Pie throwing. Historical society. School reunions. Games of chance and skill. Cotton Candy! Demonstrations by the fire and police departments. And so much more. So very much more.

And, new for 2011, in a town of such diverse and enthusiastic political opinion, there’s a new field activity this year’s that’s sure to be popular – a dunk tank where all proceeds benefit the “Foxboro Never Forgets” 9/11 memorial. Selectman Lynda Walsh and former selectman Bob Hickey report that, “…the selectmen will be manning a dunk tank to raise funds for the Foxboro Never Forgets Memorial. Along with current selectmen, they’ve invited past members of the board as well as the town manager and both chiefs.” This could be a lot of fun – you get a chance to “dunk” a town official AND benefit a wonderful cause. This could get pretty amusing and enthusiastic!

At the rink, there’s basketball, skateboarding and skating. There are games, amazing food, kids and parents and teens everywhere, taking it all in.

And may I make a suggestion – no matter what your itinerary, stop by the Founders Day committee area (or stop any of those folks on the committee) and THANK THEM. This phenomenal event is all-volunteer and it would nice if all said thanks.

By 4pm, it seems like the activity is winding down; most tents and kiosks are closing up, the business portion of the day concluded. People are now heading home to parties, gatherings, and many are just trying to get the usual Saturday chores complete before the fireworks.

For most folks, this in-between time is spent packing up, cleaning, putting away, grabbing a quick bite (or nap), doing some laundry, and then heading back to the field.

Passing by the Common, I’m amazed. All of the confetti, candy wrappers, papers, food containers, and other debris has been cleaned up. You couldn’t know a parade had even passed by.

At 8:30, the sky is still light and the grass is rapidly being covered with beach chairs and blankets. Often the Rotary is selling hamburgers – let me testify that Rotary hamburgers — always delicious anyway — taste extra good on Founders Day evening. And there are the Jaycees selling glow-sticks, lighting the field in color in their biggest fundraiser of the year.

An hour passes as latecomers seek out a remaining patch of grass to call their own. The area is filled with the shadows of bodies and chatter as the dancing and DJ music at the playground area begins to wind down.

And then BOOM! The first firework shell explodes overhead, and the people cheer. Once again, the pyrotechnic display is incredible, with the speculator colors exploding overhead and the glowing embers floating down so close to us. You will never be as close to a fireworks display as on this night.

Forget Boston on the Esplanade — Foxboro is the place to see the best fireworks display! That the show was paid for by Foxboro businesses, residents, organizations and local donations makes it all the more sweet. (By the way, if you can, be sure to keep the donations coming in to pay for next year’s fireworks! The fireworks thermometer on the common, which tracks donations, is only halfway to the top. You can donate any time, all year!)

Like the parade, in a seeming heartbeat, the show is over, and we join as one, applauding. Once again Foxboro police keep the exodus orderly, as traffic flows smoothly home in record time

Another Founders Day has come and gone.

To our police and fire fighters and rescue workers — thank you, once again, for keeping us safe.

Like so many special events in our town, Founders Day is created and coordinated by a small group of incredibly dedicated and tireless people – unsung heroes who make the impossible look easy and start planning next year’s event in July. To the Founders Day committee — and to everyone who in any way participated in making the day happen — thank you. THANK YOU. Your Herculean efforts are so much appreciated.

To everyone who enjoyed any of the events – if you can, send a donation to the Founders Day Committee, 40 South Street, Foxboro. Or buy a T-shirt. Or best, approach one of the committee members in their yellow shirts and say those beautiful words: “How can I help?”

There is a ton of information, photos, events, schedules, and how you can help at the official website: http://www.foxboroughfoundersday.com

Last minute information is posted there as well.

Founders Day is more than a parade, events, and fireworks. Unlike thousands of similar events held in Anytown, USAs, Founders Day is uniquely ours, uniquely FOXBORO. The sense of community that we all feel on this day cannot be denied.

Many years ago, a priest I admire greatly said, “This is a great place to live,” and he was (and is) so right. I LOVE THIS TOWN.

The reason I live here, what I love most about this town — is its sense of family and community. That is never more evident than it is on Founders Day.

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