By JOSEPH FITZGERALD
CUMBERLAND – The Arnold Mills Parade Association is not about to let COVID-19 spoil this year’s Fourth of July fun.
While the traditional Arnold Mills July 4th Parade - held every summer in Cumberland since 1927 - may be canceled due to the coronavirus, organizers have come up with an alternative plan for Saturday, July 4 - a “wave parade” and motorcade through town.
“Because we hold the health and safety of our participants and audience as primary in making our decision regarding the events of that day, we are being creative in our celebrations,” said parade chairwoman Joyce A. Hindle Koutsogiane.
According to the plan, parade Grand Marshal Jack Thornhill will ride with accompanying celebratory and decorated cars and patriotic music will be playing as the motorcade winds its way through town, allowing residents to watch from the sidewalks of their front steps.
Thornhill, 78, is a longtime runner who has run in the annual July 4th Arnold Mills Road Race for the past 49 years. A Cumberland resident, he grew up in Pawtucket and graduated from Pawtucket West High School (now known as Shea High School). He has run in many big-name races over the years, including the Boston Marathon, Ocean State Marathon and CVS Downtown 5K.
The motorcade on July 4 will step off at the state line at 10 a.m., then proceed down Nate Whipple Highway (Route 120) to Mendon Road (Route 122). The line of cars take a left onto Mendon Road proceeding at a parade pace through the town to Ann & Hope Way.
The motorcade proceed left at Ann & Hope Way to Broad Street, then go left at the site of the Catholic Oak, before taking a right after the Blackstone Memorial to Blackstone Street.
Arriving at High Street, the car parade go left onto High Street as it becomes Diamond Hill Road (Route 114) and proceed back to Nate Whipple Highway taking a right toward the North Attleboro line where it started.
The annual Arnold Mills 4 Mile Road Race, which celebrates its 52nd running this year, is also adapting to the pandemic and will be virtual this year, according to organizers.
To take part in the virtual race, participants must run a timed four miles anywhere on an accurately-measured course between Sunday, June 28 and Saturday, July 4, including the Arnold Mills course in Cumberland.
“This popular Cumberland race, which averages more than 500 participants each year, is the perfect kick off for high school runners and their summer training,” says Steve Mazzone, who runs the website Ocean State Running. “Once the run has been completed during that span, participants will record their times, which will be compiled on the final day.”
It costs $10 to enter the race and all participants will receive a free T-shirt. There will also be prizes in several different age categories, including Junior (under age 15) and Intermediate (age 15-17). To register, visit www.oceanstaterunning.com/article/arnold-mills-2.
The registration deadline is Thursday, July 2 at midnight. There will be no on-site registration the day of the race. All registration must be done online.
T-shirt pickup will be at the Old School house next to the North Cumberland Fire Station on Friday, July 3, from 3 to 6 p.m., and again on Saturday, July 4, from 9 a.m. to noon.
The Arnold Mills 4 Mile Road Race began in 1969 when 27 contestants began and finished the first race organized and sponsored by members of the Arnold Mills Parade Association.
Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter @jofitz7