By Rebecca Hazelton
After a week of cloudy skies, the sun came out this past Saturday and joined the citizens of Bedford for Bedford Day.
The day began with the 23rd Annual Danny Oates Memorial 5k Run/2.5k Walk and Kids Fun Run. Proceeds from the race fund the Danny Oates Memorial Scholarship benefitting local high school students, which in recent years has provided around $15,000 annually in scholarships. Alex Bradford of Bedford won the overall male category with a time of 16:05 and Candice Gagnon of Billerica won the overall female category with a time of 19:42.
Bedford’s Citizen of the Year John Linz led the parade, escorted by Bedford Fire and Police Honor Guards, State Police, and local dignitaries.
In all, 48 groups made their way up The Great Road in an array of styles: from walking, marching, and dancing, to wheelchairs, floats, and vintage cars, via strollers and parental shoulders, by miniature horse and cart, and even on stilts. The Bedford High School Marching Band under the direction of Jim Felker set the pace for the colorful parade, and a small but mighty New Orleans-style Second Line (The Party Band from Lowell, MA) capped it off with flair. Marchers carried banners representing their groups and tossed candy to the crowds.
From there, the festivities continued with booths representing 140 groups that included community organizations, local businesses, and food vendors lining the streets and parking lots of the Town Center. “It’s the largest number of booths I can remember,” said Amy Hamilton, Recreation Director.
“My favorite part of Bedford Day is getting candy,” said Kaitlyn Munsie, age 6. Kaitlyn’s brother, Tyler Munsie, age 9, who walked in the parade with the Cub Scouts, was more specific, “My favorite part of Bedford Day is eating candy!” When candy was removed from the equation, Kaitlyn was looking forward to getting her face painted and Tyler enjoyed the Chinese Yo-Yo demonstration offered by the BHS Asian American Club.
Amina Lobban and her family have attended Bedford Day since 2014 and ran the Danny Oates 5K for the first time this year. “Bedford Day is my favorite day of the year. I like…walking around to look at all the booths, watching all the demos on the field, getting cotton candy and pizza…my daughter loves getting a balloon and having her face painted.”
Planners made good use of all the amenities surrounding the Town Center. In addition to booths, Martial Arts demonstrations and “bubble soccer” were well attended on the athletic fields and nearby, younger children played mini golf in a coveted shady area by the playground. Across the way, the Friends of the Bedford Library Book Sale was in full swing.
The Bedford Arts & Crafts Society Regional Art Exposition, held in the Town Center building, showcased Bedford’s many talented artists working in a variety of media. Laura Wallace, who earned an Honorable Mention for her drawing entitled Botanical, has been attending Bedford Day for 38 years. She recalled that years ago there was more of a musical presence at Bedford Day. “It was good to have the music stand and people would dance,” said Wallace.
Heather Day, who moved to Bedford a few years ago and teaches traditional Scottish dancing at the Council on Aging, may have appreciated a dance floor to demonstrate a few Reels, but was far too busy with her other interest: gardening. The Bedford Garden Club’s booth was very popular with its chrysanthemum plant sale, which raised money for its civic projects and scholarship fund.
Many attendees commented on the strong sense of community, camaraderie, and safety that surrounds Bedford Day, none of which comes without an enormous and much-appreciated effort by the Recreation Department, the Department of Public Works, the Bedford Police Department, and the Bedford Fire Department.
Valerie Rushanan of Bedford Embraces Diversity has participated for four years. Her booth had an interactive exhibit with a painting of a tree and one simple question: “What kind of leaf are you?” Visitors wrote their answers on colorful leaves describing their families, their backgrounds, or how they felt about Bedford. The display highlighted the diversity of our community and the varied journeys people have taken before settling in Bedford. One leaf summed it up nicely, “Love Bedford. Love all the people. Love our community.”
BHS Marching Band and Color Guard
Images in the galleries below are (c) Rebecca Hazelton and JMcCT, 2017 all rights reserved – Click each image twice to see it at full size
Leading the Bedford Day Parade
Kids at Bedford Day
Organizations in the Parade
Just for fun