‘Expect the unexpected,’ at Glocester’s 97th Ancients & Horribles Parade

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GLOCESTER – Organizers for the annual 4th of July Ancients and Horribles Parade are hoping to begin the events with a bang in 2023 – literally.

This year fireworks are planned for Saturday, July 1, kicking off the celebration at 9 p.m. with food trucks and vendors setting up at Glocester Memorial Park.

On the 4th, of course, bands, state and local officials, cars, trucks, fire and police departments, veterans and an assortment of other paraders, along with traditionally satirical floats and walkers will line up for what Parade Committee chair Kathy Lamontagne hopes will be another successful event.

“Last year we got a phenomenal response,” said Lamontagne. “We are hoping to get that back again this year.”

Even during Covid, she said, people showed up. The parade was shortened, both in length and time, but the show went on, lining up near the Glocester Senior Center near the center of town, and proceeding to their destination at Acotes Cemetery, as usual. When rain threatened in 2021, it didn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm nor the turnout, she recalled. Amazingly, the rain let up just before the parade was to start and everything went according to plan, including plenty of onlookers lining the streets of Chepachet to get a glimpse of what the parade had to offer.. The route extends along the 1.5 mile stretch of highway that begins on Route 100 and intersects Route 44.

This year four bands will be marching, including a popular military organ trailer, a Dixie Land band, a 5-piece Worcester Brass band and the Bristol Fife and Drum Corps. Vendors will supply everything from sweets to dynamites, and more, including the Parade Committee, who will be selling tee shirts with 4th of July logos and 32-ounce drink cups to help offset the cost of the parade. When the parade ends at Acotes Field, the group White Shadow will be waiting on a stage provided by the town’s Department of Public Works to entertain the crowds. Veterans from all wars are being invited to participate as Honorary Marshalls.

“We are welcoming all vets from all wars,” Lamontagne explained. “We are basically going to have a battalion of vets.”

The committee spends most of the rest of the year raising funds to fuel the annual event, soliciting and accepting donations from various organizations and donors to help keep the tradition alive, which has been going on forever, it seems. In three years, it will celebrate its 100th birthday.

“This might be the oldest parade in the state,” said Lamontagne.

Actually, controversy has swirled around which parade began first, the Glocester Ancients and Horrible Parade or the Bristol Parade. Glocester’s started in 1926 according to records, echoing a tradition of similar satirical events dating back to the 1800s. The annual Bristol Parade claims to have also begun in the 1800s.

Regardless, Glocester’s Ancients and Horrible is a tradition whose annual arrival brings people from neighboring states, as well as Rhode Island, to witness. In the past almost anything and everyone was satirized, sometimes hysterically, from political targets to governmental decisions, both locally and nationally. The poster advertising the event makes that clear: “Everyone is invited to parade your artistic talents, craziest outfits, and most outlandish floats for all to enjoy.”

Lamontagne doesn’t expect anything to change this year. She said she never knows what to expect. Expect the unexpected.

“This town never lets us down,” she added.

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