Wickford, Rhode Island can be described as many things. Coastal village, family orientated community, eclectic stores, scenic, traditional, old school with modern conveniences. I am sure I am missing a few but I would also add my own. One of the best towns to host, watch, or participate in a parade. Wickford has always been an amazing place for parades. Classic cars, middle and high school bands, girls scouts, cub scouts, seniors, toddlers, politicians, dogs, bikers, veterans. They start early in the spring, with Wickford Little League marching to Wilson Park for Opening Day. We have the proud and often emotional Memorial Day parade and ceremonies. Recently, I was a participant in the New England Quahog Festival parade, which featured an incredible display of creativity, a jazz band that could arouse even the sleepiest of cats, and a village excited once again to show their civic pride. In the fall, we celebrate in town with the Veteran’s Day parade and the Halloween parade.
Parades bring visitors and residents alike to Wickford Village. With the parade route travelling through Wickford, most if not all of the access roads into and out of Wickford are not passable by cars. This means that you must park early or park outside of the village and walk into Wickford the day of the parade. Walking gives you the best opportunity to see all of the fine details of Wickford Village. To read a menu at The Beach Rose Cafe or The Place or Tate’s. To peer into the windows of Beauty and the Bath or Different Drummer or Canvasworks+. To walk the bricks next to Shayna’s and read the names of some of your neighbors and/or family members. To read the names posted on the historical homes as you walk down Main St. towards the town dock. To take a moment to stare out into the harbor at the beauty and wonder of living, working, being in a coastal village. Parades bring people into Wickford to discover its quaintness, its history, its relevance in Rhode Island – whether it be their 1st trip or their 1001st trip. And feel free to shop, eat, enjoy all that Wickford Village has to offer.
I asked a few locals what their thoughts were about parades in Wickford. Here are some of their responses:
Nancy Rafi – “It started with the local kids asking me to put together a costume parade in the neighborhood and quickly grew into a parade through town ending with a festival at the beach. Who knew so many people liked to dress up as mermaids and pirates and cavort in the sand? Just goes to prove if you give people the opportunity to have some fun they’ll always show up. And it doesn’t hurt if you invite the Extraordinary Rendition Band to lead the parade! Can’t wait till next year!”
Julie Beebe – “Wickford is the kind of place that makes you happy just walking down the street. It’s picturesque, artsy, welcoming and safe. It bustles with families popping into their favorite local shops and restaurants, walking their dogs, playing on the water and just enjoying the serenity of being by the sea. So… what do happy, artsy, playful people love to do in such a quaint little village?Enjoy PARADES together as a community!!! There’s nothing like cheering, laughing & honoring with your community to make you feel that hometown pride!”
Ken Proudfoot – ” In Wickford, parades circumscribe the seasons. There is the end of Spring as the Memorial Day parade steps off at the end of May and we recall all those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. In November, we feel Autumn nearer as we gather for the Veterans’ Day Parade, note the anniversary of the end of what was called the Great War (WWI), and recognize all those who have served in the military and celebrate their service to our country. Our Wickford parades are an important tradition. They remind us of the size and breadth and diversity of our community’s residents. They call us together in public to remember those who have sacrificed for our freedoms. They draw us together in a way that happens at no other way. Being at a parade together with our community is stress-free family time, sans a dress code. We are free from the worries of the world for an hour or two. If we are thinking at all, is a time for reflection and for being thankful for all we have living here in Wickford.”
Of course, it takes more than just a village to run and coordinate a parade. Our local law enforcement agencies, fire department, and Town of North Kingstown officials work very hard to make sure that parades are well organized, safe for all ages, and above all, continue to be a staple of Wickford Village. There are hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of hours spent decorating and planning and organizing these parade events. Having been a participant in several parades recently, I know that the event coordinators spend countless hours working on the big and small picture to make sure the parade is successful, fun, and engaging. For me, a parade in Wickford means kids and adults come to the village to be a part of this community. To show their civic pride and maybe to get to know a village that you simply cannot fully appreciate by driving through. It is an incredible opportunity for the merchants of Wickford to showcase their delicious menus, their eclectic stores, their art, their books, their antiques, their crafts. Whether they are celebrating or reflecting or embracing a vision, a parade through Wickford is one of the best ways to spend your morning here in Rhode Island.
Photo credits – Featured Photo courtesy of Nancy Rafi, photography by James Lastowski; Memorial Day Parade photo provided by Ken Proudfoot
Nancy Rafi will be hosting a fundraiser on the beach for next year’s New England Quahog Festival on Saturday, Sept 17th 530-9PM. Hope that you’ll come to show your support and spread the word. Tickets will be $50 and include food + drinks, and the Extraordinary Rendition Band will be performing! Info is on Facebook page – New England Quahog Festival
Julie Beebe is the 2016 Queen of the New England Quahog Festival and co-owner of JW Graham & Yes! Gallery in Wickford Village. You can visit these must-shop stores next time you are in town at their 17 and 26 Brown St. locations
Ken Proudfoot is a local writer, filmmaker, and publisher who has championed the role of energizing the spirits of Wickford Village through music, writing, and the arts. His #discoverwickford is prominently posted on social media and Ken has helped organize a number of events to increase civic pride in Wickford.