Did you ever wonder how a parade first started? How many years ago had it stepped off for the first time? Who were the people that were responsible for organizing and planning original exciting event? The members of the Arnold Mills Parade Association did wonder. They decided to research and investigate our parade’s origin. The following is some of what they’ve learned.
The first recorded Arnold Mills Parade was held on July 4th, 1927. Reverend Horatio H. Crawford of the Arnold Mills Methodist Church (1922-1931) acted as chairman and as the general committee.
(An historic note of interest is that on July 3, 1927, a large pre-holiday bonfire was witnessed by most of the town’s people. Thus, the Pierce Farm buildings were removed so that the new Arnold Mills Reservoir could be flooded. This preceded the festivities of Rev. Crawford’s first recorded parade.)
A meeting was held in mid-June of 1929 for the purpose of forming a committee for that year’s parade and future ones. The meeting was held at the Nathan Whipple Granary. Neil MacKenzie (a local blacksmith) and Reverend Crawford were in attendance. The 1930 parade, in which Rev. Crawford participated, had a starting time of 10:30 AM. In 1931, Reverend Crawford was honored by being appointed the Parade of Horribles Grand Marshal. Later that year he left Rhode Island for a new parish. By that time (1931) the North Cumberland Fire Department had taken over the leadership of the parade as a means of helping to finance the department. The bucket brigade that preceeds today’s parade found its origins through the fire department fundraising efforts.
H. Seymour Wiley took over the reins of the parade in 1964. He created an organization, separate from the fire department, to run future parades. “Hank” Wiley served as Parade Grand Marshal until 1997. The Arnold Mills Parade Association, a group of volunteer local citizens, devote many hours each year to bringing the best celebration of our nation’s birth to the citizens of Cumberland and its surrounding communities.
Recent Parade Themes
- 2019: Let Freedom Ring
- 2018: Celebrating Our Heritage
- 2017: Stars and Stripes Forever
- 2016: Our 90th Parade
- 2015: Sweet Land of Liberty
- 2014: Proud to be an American
- 2013: A Slice of America
- 2011: America, Our Home
- 2010: Celebrate with Us!
- 2009: Hope for the Future
- 2008: Land of the Free Because of the Brave