Milford Community Parades, Inc., organizers of Milford’s annual fall parade , have announced that this year’s theme will be America The Beautiful. An event that has been a Milford tradition since 1939, the Milford Community Parade marches through Walnut Street of Milford, encompassing 1.7 miles stretching from South to North, through beautiful and scenic downtown Milford. This year’s festivities are scheduled to occur on Wednesday evening, October 19, 2016.
“With this being an election year and current trends, being proud as an American most can relate to,” said Parade Chairperson Charles Gray. “We expect to see very patriotic themes and would like to see representations of national parks and American icons.”
The Milford Community Parade was originally themed as a Halloween parade as it began 70 years ago under Ed Evans, who was Milford’s Mayor during World War II. In recent history the Gray family has facilitated the event for the past 25 years. With the help of community members, family and friends, James Gray set out to make the parade a unique experience for those attending. Under the direction of Milford Community Parades, Inc., the parade began as a fall holiday celebration and has since evolved into a fall seasonal parade with changing themes. According to Charles Gray, current Parade Chairperson, attendance has reached 30,000 in previous years with the multiple marching bands as the parade’s signature attraction.
In any given year parade goers can listen to between 10 and 20 different bands throughout the evening, including university, high school and community bands. Over the years, the parade has hosted local businesses and non-profit organizations, statewide political figures and even some unique entries including an airplane and an elephant. Businesses and individuals help sponsor the parade annually. Any size sponsorship is considered and for those that would join the $100 campaign, the business or individual will receive a yard sign to proudly display on the lawn or in a window. This year’s sign will feature a picture of the parade mascot, Bob, and under his picture is the phrase Vote4Bob. Signs will be available at the Milford Skating Center on Saturday, April 23 during the Bug & Bud Festival and can be delivered throughout the Summer to contributors within a reasonable distance.
The parade committee meets monthly to discuss ideas and how to improve the logistics. The parade committee also raises funds with additional fundraisers, such as parking cars at a local show, selling food and beverages at a local event, hosting a special all you can eat skating party and serving pretzels at a local large event. The committee, comprised of individuals from both Kent and Sussex Counties, outside and inside Milford, are all volunteers and have been coordinating the parade raising funds and managing the parade for more than thirty years. Across many themes over many years, there is still on thing that Gray loves overall.
“The children when their faces light up at the sight of the bands, fire trucks, floats and walkers in costume,” said Gray. “I am proud to be part of a committee of volunteers that meet every month and take their valuable time to offer the Milford community and surrounding communities a family friendly night of fun. We know from more than thirty years of comments, families enjoy coming to Milford to view the community spirit no matter the theme, and equally enjoy the marching bands.”
Among several participant awards over several categories each year, the Jim and Marie Jo Gray Community Spirit Award will continue its third year run as it is bestowed upon the entry that demonstrates the most enthusiasm and community spirit through their entry decorations and volunteer spirit. The first to receive the award was the Milford High School Cheerleaders after their determination illustrated during the 2014 parade amidst rain down pours and wind. In 2015, the Westside Restaurant was announced as the Community Spirit Award winner after their “all in” spirit of their participants and decorations to the theme Back to the Future.
Reviewing stands and food vendors will be found along the 1.7 mile route. Mr. Gray pointed out, “Unlike other parades, we offer three reviewing stands for the spectator’s convenience. This allows the spectators to spread out and not all be jammed into a small space. This leads to better crowd control and logistics for families ready to leave at the end of the parade. We are proud of the partnership we have had over the years with Milford Police Department, the Chief, and the local departments that assist the evening of the parade.”
Families are encouraged to visit www.milfordparade.com for parade route information, detour information, sponsorship information and more. The parade begins at 6:30pm on October 19. Contributions of all sizes are accepted and can be mailed to MCP,Inc., PO Box 1153, Milford, DE 19963. Contributors in the $100 campaign can also contribute online.
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