Bob Gillis and Bob Shea, Founders Day, 2001
Bob Gillis and Bob Shea, Founders Day, 2001

Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter June 2000

Well, let’s start this Founders Day column with two shocking confessions: First, I did something stupid Founders Day morning, and second, this is the first time I’ve actually watched a Founders Day parade in its entirety.

First, the stupid thing. I arrived early for the parade and parked off the railroad tracks, walked about 10 feet from my car and realized that not only had I locked the keys in the thing, but it was still running. I make this embarrassing announcement in hopes of quelling the giggles I’m already getting from friends and family about this blunder. After the parade, my buddy Scott from Central Garage, who’s already helped me out of a few car problems, did his usual excellent work and had me back in the car in seconds.

Anyway, this brings us to shocking confession number two – although I’ve lived in town nearly ten years, each Founder’s Day I would either be occupied, or my old job at the bank had an audit that week-end. So this was my FIRST Founders Day parade where I just arrived, sat, and watched the parade in it entirety.

Now, I’ve seem a lot of parades before – most of us have, and they are all pretty much the same – bands, floats, the usual.

But the Foxboro parade is special because there’s a huge amount of town pride on display. That’s especially evident in the care that goes into creating the impressive floats, as well as the hand-drawn signs and other decorations.

It was with genuine enjoyment I took in last Saturday’s Founders Day parade. The number of people didn’t overwhelm me; I know that previous year’s attendance has been measured around 8000; I don’t think there was a quarter that many people there. What’s up with that, people?

Still, the air was charged with excitement as the familiar blast of the fire engines began. Whether vintage engine or modern fire fighting equipment, the vehicles shined in the beautiful warm sunshine. And I was amused to see that many of the fire/rescue and police vehicles had little children riding in them, enjoying the attention and waving to everyone. In the police cars, the children often wore the department caps. Future law enforcement!

Many of the floats were excellent. I’m partial to the Jaycees birthday Foxboro birthday cake (a winning entry, by the way), and also was very impressed by the four seasons float, featuring Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July and Saint Patrick’s day themes. The woman standing next to me agreed, it was too early to think about Christmas – the TV ads won’t be starting until next month.

The bands were excellent – the high school kids, the police band, the veterans from the post, and especially the bagpipers – I felt my Celtic heritage when they passed by! Each was dressed in their best, and played flawlessly.

I was touched by the involvement of the little kids – the Scouts and Brownies were well represented, many gave out candy, and some had silly string. The kids from Personal Best were looking sleek in their uniforms – although I did pause to reflect that these little children probably could kick my butt with their karate skills! Very impressive.

The Foxboro seniors were well represented by Lorraine Garland and a beautiful float followed by the (still) new Van Go. Many seniors rode the COA float, with others marching by it.

One float that floored me was the simple one simulating a cemetery of green grass with the white crosses listing fallen veterans. Very poignant.

In all, an amazing event. As the final cars passed by, the Founder’s Day committee was waving at everyone. Karl Kusch, Ginny Coppola and the other members were smiling but looked tired. “Thank you!” I yelled. There’s so few people on that committee – much like the Discretionary Fund, the late Foxboro First Night committee, and several other groups – just a handful of people pulling off a Herculean effort year after year. The logistics must be mind-boggling.

We appreciate it, folks. We really do.

The activities at the Booth playground offered something for everyone, but of course the fireworks were the main draw. I must say with no hyperbole that last Saturday’s pyrotechnic display was one of the best – if not the best – -I have ever seen. To be truthful, some previous Founders Day fireworks have been good, but not great. This one – especially the phenomenal finale – literally knocked my socks off!

So to everyone who was involved with this successful Founders Day, our deepest thanks. I hope that next year more people turn out for the parade. Seeing it in its entirety this year, I feel I’ve missed something these past years. If you weren’t there Saturday, you missed something special too. Make it a point to go next year – just be sure that you have your car keys in hand before you lock the car.

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