CUMBERLAND — A Cumberland Fourth of July tradition for more than 90 years, the Arnold Mills Parade steps off Thursday, July 4.
This year’s 92nd annual parade starts at 11 a.m. on Nate Whipple Highway (Route 120) close to the North Attleboro town line. The theme for this year’s parade is: “Let Freedom Ring.”
Parade Grand Marshal this year is Tom Kenwood, longtime road race chairman of the Arnold Mills Parade Association.
The parade, over 90 years old, has been known as the Horribles Parade. However, it now includes fire trucks, antique and custom cars, bands, clowns, decorated bicycles, patriotic walkers and floats.
Prize money is awarded for the best floats. In addition, plaques will be awarded in various categories. Judging will begin promptly at 10 a.m.
Children, adults and seniors as well as business owners are all welcome to take part. Participants are asked to meet at 748 Nate Whipple Highway at 9:30 a.m. before the parade begins. Parents must accompany their child to the gathering location to fill out an entry form or download the form from the parade web site at www.arnoldmillsparade.com and present it on the day of the parade.
The parade will be preceded by the Arnold Mills Road Race, which begins at 9 a.m. from the North Cumberland Fire Station, 50 Arnold Mills Road. One of the oldest running races in New England, it is a certified 4-mile race over mostly flat country roads. The top three finishers get trophies, with a prize raffle to follow. Categories include junior (under 15) through 60 plus.
The Arnold Mills 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. Today, hundreds compete for the prizes given annually in the holiday race.
The first recorded Arnold Mills Parade was held on July 4, 1927. Reverend Horatio H. Crawford of the Arnold Mills Methodist Church (1922-1931) acted as chairman and as the general committee.
A meeting was held in mid-June of 1929 for the purpose of forming a committee for that year’s parade and future ones. The meeting was held at the Nathan Whipple Granary. Neil MacKenzie (a local blacksmith) and Reverend Crawford were in attendance. The 1930 parade, in which Rev. Crawford participated, had a starting time of 10:30 a.m. In 1931, Crawford was honored by being appointed the Parade of Horribles grand marshal. Later that year he left Rhode Island for a new parish. By that time (1931) the North Cumberland Fire Department had taken over the leadership of the parade as a means of helping to finance the department. The bucket brigade that precedes today’s parade found its origins through the fire department fundraising efforts.
H. Seymour Wiley took over the reins of the parade in 1964. He created an organization, separate from the fire department, to run future parades. “Hank” Wiley served as parade grand marshal until 1997.
Today, the Arnold Mills Parade Association, a group of volunteer local citizens, devote many hours each year to planning and coordinating the annual parade.
To register a float for the parade or to register for the road race, visit www. arnoldmillsparade.com.
Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter at jofitz7