The return of the Marblehead Horribles Parade

Local families and children embraced the full return of the Marblehead Horribles Parade on the Fourth of July.

Hundreds turned out for the holiday tradition, annually organized by the Gerry 5 Firemen’s Association, Inc.

Both the horrible costumes and patriotic garb were eclectic: Mermaids. A new nine-member Supreme Court. Dorothy and her posse: the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. Top Gun Girls. Cardboard vegetables grown in the Glover School organic garden. Athletes aplenty, from Celtics basketball players to a variety of Olympians. Kids pedaled bikes with red, white and blue streamers. Some parents pulled their children in Radio Flyers.

The marching contingent departed from the National Grand Bank’s parking lot and did a loop of a parade route: Pleasant, Essex and Washington streets, Five Corners and past Memorial Park. Residents lined sections of the parade route, waving, cheering and applauding as the children processed through the town’s streets.

Town Historian Don Doliber had a ready-made, front-row seat to all the morning’s action as he volunteered in the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce information booth.

“I love the Horribles Parade,” said Doliber. “It’s always good to see the number of people turn out not just to participate but also just to watch these young people come through.”

He added, “And we’ve got a beautiful day for it.” 

Volunteers from the Gerry 5 handed out ice cream sandwiches, bags of goodies and half dollars to each child participant.

“It’s just Gerry 5 that organizes the parade,” said Carol McHugh, co-chair of the parade’s planning committee. “The National Grand generously allows us to use their parking lot [and] electricity to power everything.”

Marblehead native Liz Shepard recalled participating in the Horribles Parade as a child “some 60-plus years ago.

“The prizes are exactly the same, except you get a 50-cent piece now,” she said. “When I marched, it was only a quarter.”

The parade was Marblehead’s kick off to an Independence Day chock-full of community festivities, with the near town-wide Marblehead Festival of the Arts, the Children’s Festival, the St. Michael’s Lobster Roll Sale, the Marblehead Harbor Illumination and Fireworks among other things to do.

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