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March 22, 2017

Amherst marks its 250th birthday in style

Amherst’s 250th celebration anniversary got off to a great start Sunday afternoon with an old-fashioned parade starting from Amherst College and ending at UMass’s Haigis Hall.

Even with temperatures in the 60s and a steady flow of rain, spectators lined both sides of North Pleasant Street and Massachusetts Avenue to catch a glimpse of town history in the making.

The theme of the parade was a celebration of the heritage, character and history of Amherst, a pride which the participants and floats attempted to express.

Vintage cars, horses and tractors, bands and wagons all appeared in the event, which drew hundreds of onlookers.

The event marked the biggest parade in Amherst history, with over 100 entries representing everything from businesses, community organizations and youth groups to the Amherst Fire Department.

“The one thing that really stands out about this parade – the participants. They made it happen. They made it a memorable parade. The community came out to see a great show and that’s what they got,” remarked an onlooker.

Many of the attendees sat in lawnchairs or on the curb of sidewalks, with children, pets and cameras, eager to catch a look at those participating. Floats from The Emily Dickinson Museum, The Jones Library, The UMass Minutemen Marching Band and re-enactors from the civil and revolutionary wars all made their way through downtown at various points during the day. The First Congregational Church also had a float featured.

“It is excellent, very well done,” said Merry Goings. “There was lots of community participation, and the band is welcome anytime.”

Goings added that seeing youth involved, like those from Hopkins Academy, is great and puts them into the spirit of the event. Her husband, Bob, described the parade as “fantastic.”

He said he believed the whole day went well and it was a great thing for the community.

Amherst resident Matt Schager and his sons, Jack, 3, and Luke, 2, waved to the parade participants as they passed by.

“It is pretty spectacular,” Schager said. “It was pretty neat to see the Budweiser Horses.”

The Budweiser Clydesdales are the beverage industry’s most recognizable mascots. During the week, the horses delivered beer to bars and restaurants in town, and on Sunday they participated in the parade.

“It is nice to see the community get together and celebrate 250 years,” resident Emilee Rogers said. “I wish Amherst another 250 years.”

Caitlin Soto can be reached at csoto@student.umass.edu.

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