AMHERST — Thousands of people packed Amherst Village Center Thursday morning for the town’s traditional Fourth of July parade and celebration on the green.
“It’s like this every year,” said Dick Stout, longtime member of the Amherst Lions which, like almost every other organization in town, was on the green doling out cold drinks, information and handshakes.
“We started last night with fireworks and a concert,” said Stout, who added the town’s colonial history lends itself to a big, town-wide Fourth of July party.
“And this is just the people who aren’t home having their own celebrations,” he said.
Democrats and Republicans had booths across from one another on one end of the green, and a group promoting school choice and vouchers had a large sign that was hard to miss. But most people don’t come for the politics.
“The parade is the big attraction,” said volunteer Charlene Carper. “It’s a home-grown parade.”
Despite the heat that saw temperatures soaring into the 90s, bands marched and played horns, drums and bagpipes. There were also plenty of homemade floats, community organizations showering the sidelines with candy and volunteers dressed in historical costumes.
The parade passed by the town green, where local artists had set up an avenue of tents with paintings and crafts. On one end of the green clowns created balloon animals, and kids visited a makeshift petting zoo at the other end.
In between there were all types of food, crafts and red, white and blue gadgets and gear.
“This is the quintessential, small town Fourth of July parade and celebration,” said Cathy Wojtkun, who was relaxing with a group of people who had set up lawn chairs along the parade route.
Wojtkun, who grew up in Andover, Mass,. but now lives in Nashua, brings her hometown friends to Amherst to celebrate the holiday.
“Amherst is the community that everyone wants to live in but that nobody really knows about,” she said. “It has roots and strong family values.”