First-Time Float a Winner
Pittsfield's 4th of July Parade, once billed as "Your Hometown America Parade" has been famous for its size, popularity and community spirit since it began in 1824. The horse-drawn carriages and Revolutionary War veterans that made up the parade back then have been replaced with marching bands, police and firefighter brigades, cheerleaders, and fife and drum corps from all over western Massachusetts and the Capital district; state and local politicians, including Mayor James Ruberto and Governor Deval Patrick; various civic and community groups; and ever-more-elaborate floats. This year, in fact, the parade gained even more notoriety when it was named one of the "10 Best Parade Venues in the Country" by USA Today.
Although the Pittsfield Public School district has been part of the parade for many years, this year the district was honored in two ways. First, Pittsfield High School graduating senior, Jacqueline Quetti, was named Grand Marshal of the parade. And secondly, 2010 was the first time the organization entered a float into the parade—and walked away with one of the prizes from the Parade Committee.
Pam Delmolino, [title], was drafted early in June by Superintendent Eberwein to head up the group constructing the float. "Not only did he want a float," recalls Delmolino, "he made it clear he wanted to win!" Known for her work on the prize-winning floats entered in the past by K-B Toys, Delmolino quickly went to work assembling a team of experts, made up of school department employees and her former K-B colleagues.
Working on weekends and after school, the team went to work. "The theme of the parade was 'We the People,'" explains Delmolino. "And we decided our float would demonstrate how we the people support education through reading." As they searched for a symbol of this focus, the group came up with the idea of a large bookworm reading a book. What book to choose was the next question. "We settled on Harry Potter," says Delmolino, "because any age can enjoy those books, from elementary school children to high school…and even adults."
The worm, constructed of giant round containers covered in bright green shimmering plastic wore a pair of Harry Potter-style round glasses and a backwards baseball cap. His head turned from side to side as he "read," and he held a giant copy of one of the novels in front of him. "We had two of the pages from one of the books blown up to attach inside our book," says Delmolino. "And Pittsfield High art teacher Colleen Quinn worked after school to paint the cover," which featured the familiar typeface as well as a portrait of the young wizard. A soundtrack featuring the Harry Potter theme from the films completed the mood.
On the day of the parade, a warm, sunny 5th of July, a group of students climbed aboard the float, which was followed by Superintendent Eberwein and other district administrators on foot. Proudly bearing its "Mayor's Award" sign on its side, the float rolled down South Street as clouds clapped and cheered and the bookworm read his book, his head turning slowly from side to side in time to his theme song.
After all her hard work, would Delmolino agree to do it again next year? "Dr. Eberwein already asked," she laughs. "And I said yes."