By Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – With the town’s Fourth of July parade in danger of disappearing, a new group has emerged with the intention of continuing the annual tradition.
Ryan Quimby, the town’s Information Technology director, is leading a small group with the intention of taking on the extensive project from the existing parade committee, led by Carl Ohlin, which has seen its numbers dwindle in recent years.
“Carl Ohlin has got to be one of the greatest guys that I know and they [the parade committee members] have all been around here a very long time and are now looking to pass the torch,” Quimby said.
In a recent letter to the community Ohlin explained that the majority of the committee’s members were planning on retiring because of personal issues and years of service on the committee.
Quimby, who grew up in East Longmeadow, watched the parade as a child and marched in it when he was an active member of the National Guard, stated his belief that the parade was one of the town’s most important events and helps define it as a community.
“I really think the parade is kind of the soul of the town and to see it fail, well, we just can’t let that happen,” he said.
Quimby added he was excited by the opportunity to take a larger active role in the planning of the parade and appreciated the help provided by Ohlin in learning all of the intricacies of the town’s largest and most renowned event.
“I’ve helped in previous years by making maps and things like that, but when I saw a letter from Carl asking for help, I reached out to him to see what else I could do,” he said, adding that he quickly began meeting with many of the groups in town that participate in the parade. “Thank God Carl is helping us out because he is such a wealth of knowledge and really knows everything there is to know about the parade.”
Quimby explained a kick-off meeting would take place shortly and in April the committee would begin sending out participation letters, but has already seen some interest.
“I’ve had a few people reach out to me who want to be in the parade who haven’t been in the past and a few residents stand up who want to be involved as well,” he said.
Those interested in helping with the parade can contact Quimby by phone at 348-0953 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or Ohlin at 525-2952. Brian Falk, in charge of parade communications, can also be reached at 519-0698.