Parade of Pols

09Jul10

Maybe I’m the only one, but I like seeing the politicians in the Wakefield (MA) July 4th Parade.

The marching bands are great, and they provide an element of entertainment relief in what would otherwise be an endless stream of pols. But the main reason I go to the parade every July 4th is to see which politicians will show up.
Anthony Guardia
My interest in the parade of politicians likely started when I was a young kid in the late 1950s and saw John F. Kennedy march in the Wakefield, Massachusetts parade. At the time, I had no idea who JFK was, but I remember to this day the buzz of excitement among my adult family members as Kennedy marched past us. He embodied my parents’ generation’s hopes of seeing the first member of their generation elected President of the United States. I suspect that for me, going to see the parade every Independence Day is at least partly rooted in a wish to recapture that faded memory.
US Senator Scott Brown
The big star of this year’s parade was Scott Brown, the Wakefield kid who now holds the US Senate seat that once belonged to JFK and later to his brother Ted Kennedy – a seat that, to their eternal regret, most Democrats took for granted.

Give Brown credit. No one could be faulted for not marching in this year’s scorching heat. Brown isn’t even up for re-election until 2012. Other than Brown and members of the Board of Selectmen, I can’t think of a politician in this year’s parade who isn’t running for election this year. Brown could easily have taken a pass on the 2010 and 2011 parades and just shown up before the 2012 election, but that’s not his style.
Bill Hudak
This being an election year for many other offices, the 2010 parade was a who’s who of politicians running for various seats. There was Richard Tisei, the current State Senator running for Lt. Governor. Three people seeking Tisei’s senate seat also marched, current State Rep. Katherine Clark, along with Michael Day and Craig Spadafora. Congressman John Tierney and his Republican challenger Bill Hudak were marching. So was State Treasurer candidate Steve Grossman. The parade was crawling with would-be state representatives: Paul Brodeur, Anthony Guardia, David Lucas and Donald Wong.
David Lucas
Notable by their absence were state representative candidates Monica Medeiros and Eric Estevez. No criticism intended. Even politicians sometimes go away for a holiday weekend, and, as mentioned earlier, the day was hot as hell. Both Estevez and Medeiros took some heat last month for finding their way on to local Memorial Day programs, which was seen as politicizing a solemn holiday. But July 4th is different.

In contrast to Memorial Day’s more somber tone, the 4th of July is a celebration, and I see politicians marching in the parade as a way to celebrate democracy. Their presence symbolizes our freedom to run for public office and to vote for the candidates of our choice.
Alley Oop
The kids have their clowns, and fans of marching bands certainly have plenty to cheer about. Political junkies need a reason to attend the parade, too.

In the long and grand history of Wakefield’s Independence Day Parade, countless politicians have marched, some big names and some all but forgotten. Kudos to the politicians who braved the sweltering heat to be seen in this year’s parade.

And to those who didn’t march – no sweat.

[This column originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item.]

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