By Stacie Miller
Summer will be here before you know it and you can’t think about the Fourth of July without fireworks, watermelons and parades coming to mind. This year, the Community Roundtable will host the Brandon Fourth of July Parade for the 63rd year.
The parade will start at 10 a.m. at the corner of Parsons Ave. and Lumsden Rd., heading north on Parsons Ave., turning on Robertson St. and ending at Buckingham Pl. near the roller skating rink. Typically, 100 groups participate making this one of the larger events in our area. Organizations that wish to participate may register and pay the $75 registration fee online at www.thecommunityroundtable.org.
The Community Roundtable has sponsored the parade since 1957 (although the parade has been around longer than that). The roundtable organization is made up solely of volunteers. Many of the members, such as President Janine Nickerson, have been involved for years and have some entertaining memories of earlier parades.
Nickerson recalls when the parade used to start on SR 60 and end at the Sadie St. park, where annual events such as the Diaper Derby, Little Miss Firecracker Pageant and a Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest were held.
In the early days of the parade a family/couple driving down SR 60 on the Fourth of July would get ‘arrested’ and were asked to participate in the parade as special guests of the Community Roundtable.
“Prior to the parade, the ‘prisoners’ were treated to a complimentary pancake breakfast,” said Nickerson. “After driving the parade route, they were released and sent on their way. It was unsophisticated, but that’s what made it Brandon!”
These days, one of the highlights is the naming of Brandon’s Honorary Mayor. The Honorary Mayor of Brandon! race consists of community members declaring their candidacy and fundraising for local charities during the month leading up to the parade.
Every dollar raised is donated to Brandon area nonprofits. Whoever earns the most money for their designated charities earns the title. But, in reality, the charities are the real winners.
It takes a lot of work to put on a large event like this, so if you are looking for a way to get involved in the community or to earn service hours, here is your opportunity. It takes about 40 volunteers to produce the parade, and right now it has between 10 and 15 people.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact Janine Nickerson at 661-4350 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.