By: Sue Anganes
When does summer start? For me it’s the Fourth of July! There hasn’t been a year yet that I’ve missed the Chelmsford Fourth of July Parade. When I was young and growing up in Chelmsford, the parade was much smaller and less crowded. When I was nine or ten years old I would decorate my bicycle by running red, white, and blue crepe paper through the spokes on my wheels and taping long streamers to my handlebars. My parents would let me ride the two miles into the center of town by myself. Things were much simpler then, and I don’t think my parents had any worries about me being off on my own.
After my sister and I were both married with kids, my brother-in-law Dave started the tradition of running in the John Carson Road Race with our kids. The race always takes place right before the parade. My oldest four kids ran in many races, and a couple of times they placed very well in their age categories. My brother-in-law, who is a runner, was great at organizing and keeping track of the kids during and after the race. My husband and I were better at cheering from the sidelines. My oldest two sons still run the race each year. Unfortunately my youngest two sons have never run the race because of their neurotransmitter disease. They still enjoy cheering their brothers and cousins on from the sidelines.
My family, as well as my sister’s, has grown very large over the past thirty years (we have thirteen kids between us, not including the spouses and grandchildren). But every year, we all meet at a certain place on the parade route. We take up a good chunk of the sidewalk! I love to see the excitement in my grandchildren’s faces while the parade marches past.
One of the most emotional moments I’ve ever had at the parade was two years ago when a serviceman got out of his Humvee and approached my son Raymond who was sitting in his wheelchair. The serviceman shook Ray’s hand and told him, “You are my hero.” He gave Ray an army medallion which Ray wears around his neck to this day. I was amazed that this man, a true American Hero, took the time to single my son out and encourage him. It left a huge impression on Ray and all of us.
After the parade we always head to my sister and brother-in-law’s house for the best cookout ever, and in the evening we always try to catch a fireworks display.