RUTLAND — Rutland’s 49th annual Loyalty Day Parade honors the event’s founders Sunday.
Loyalty Day began nationally in the 1950s as a patriotic response to the May Day parades held in the Soviet Union.
Rutland started holding Loyalty Day parades, organized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in 1963 (the city skipped a year somewhere along the way, according to organizer Rick Fairbanks, which is why the 50th does not come until next year) under the management of Aldo Manfredi and Larry Bolgioni.
Manfredi died after three decades as the parade’s chairman. Bolgioni, who Fairbanks said was involved in 48 parades, died earlier this year. Fairbanks said their families will be on hand as they are honored during this year’s parade.
Along with the parade, downtown hosts a 5k run/walk organized by the Cairo Shriners, starting from 51 Washington St. at noon, and the Loyalty Day Luncheon put on by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary. The $5 luncheon runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Post 648, with dancing starting at 3 p.m. Children 12 and under get in for $2.50 and those 5 and under for free.
The parade includes roughly 100 entries divided into five sections, with VFW posts, marching bands, color guards, fire departments, Scout troops and vehicle clubs from around the state joining the queue. Lineup begins at 1 p.m. and step-off is slated for 2 p.m. “sharp” — Fairbanks said the time will be signalled with a blast from the fire whistle — and the parade is scheduled to last until 4 p.m.
The route goes from Madison Street to Strongs Avenue, down Wales Street and then Church Street, left onto Williams Street, left again onto North Grove and down Merchants Row, breaking up at the entrance to Walmart and Price Chopper.
Fairbanks said more than a dozen volunteers work on organizing the parade starting in January.
“We try to improve it, get some more people,” he said. “Every year we’ve grown and grown. ... We always have ideas. One thing we don’t like is we don’t like advertising in the parade. We don’t like politicians to say ‘Vote for me.’... We want to keep it a fun parade and an enjoyable parade.”
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