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The Woodland String Band, Philadelphia mummers, April 23, 2017.The Woodland String Band, Philadelphia mummers, march in the 2017 parade.

UPDATED, April 29: Arlington's 2017 parade of patriots and an amalgam of honorees streamed down Mass. Ave. on a brilliant Sunday, April 23, to a nonetheless appreciative but smaller-than-usual crowd.

It was not Patriots Day, because of the day on which Easter fell this year: So what?


Local heroes were honored -- foremost among them the late Roly Chaput, an uncommonly active volunteer, and the state-champ Arlington High hockey team.

Clutches of kilt-wearing musicians marched by, drums rattling. So did squadrons of stately police, some afoot, some on horseback. As they long have, Colonials reenactors fired away.

And here are some firsts for the Arlington parade, continuing for more than a century:

-- The Woodland String Band, mummers from Philadelphia, making glittering history there since 1926. (At first, I thought the banner said "Wood and Strings," but the kaleidoscopic costumes made me think again.)

-- Welcoming messages from a variety of groups, including the Human Rights Commission and those bearing the Welcome to All banner, soon to grace the town's Visitors' Center, near the Uncle Sam Plaza.

-- And no Shriners. I have watched Patriots Day Parades since the early 1990s and cannot recall an earlier event without them. That's OK with me. The site of trailers, clowns and whirling cyclists has always impressed me as odd in an Arlington event. The accompanying legend "Aleppo" on many of the vehicles would be a reminder of the horrid current war in Syria.

Still more photos: from resident Janica Janakieva >>

Then, on reflection, what is wrong with that? After all, the parade offers plenty of evidence of past wars.

Indeed, the annual event -- except for 2015, when funds for it ran dry -- celebrates patriots. You recall: the ones who stood up to the British in 1775 and led the founding of our nation. That includes old Sam Whittemore. Though bayonetted and beaten, the resident of Menotomy killed three Redcoats.

So children and parents line Mass. Ave. as pass blaring horns of firetrucks from a variety of communities, a police car from the Vineyard, the guns of wars past.

Reminded of those who fought for us and who help make us safe now, the parade then turns to honoring those in Arlington who benefit from that safety. This includes all of the groups represented in the photos accompanying this appreciation and listed below.

Published earlier

The parade marked a fresh direction for marchers.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, April 23, the town's Human Rights Commission kicked off its project, called Arlington for All, to highlight diversity. 

Those involved plan to march "as a visible representation of our diverse town," a rights commission newsletter says.

The grand marshal was Chaput, who died in January 2016. His widow, Janet, represented him in a car drievn by Bob Bowes, prominent town Realtor.

The honorary grand marshals are the state-champion Arlington High School hockey team, among others.

In addition to the traditional events, "We plan to provide #arl4all flags for marchers and to give out candies from many countries. We encourage people to join us in garb representing your ethnic background, faith community, school, LGBTQIA+ pride colors, etc."

Fun Run early

The Boys & Girls Club of Arlington sponsored the 53rd annual "Fun Run" Patriots Day Road Race, first held April 19, 1965.

The 2.5-mile event was open to all Arlington residents and members of the Boys & Girls Club. The race was held  April 23, at 8 a.m., beginning at the Arlington/Lexington line on Mass. Ave. and proceeding to the Boys & Girls Club. Registrations fees applied. Visit its website for more details.

Menotomy battle reenactment at noon

The Arlington Historical Society and Menotomy Minute Men again included a battle reenactment on the lawn of the Jason Russell House. History has well documented the fights in Lexington and Concord that triggered the American Revolution.

Lesser known is the fighting that happened immediately afterword in Menotomy Village (Arlington). Arlington has its own Patriots Day story, and it's a riveting one. The exciting story will be told in full through a live reenactment at noon April 23, on the Jason Russell House grounds at Mass. Ave. and Jason Street.

Answering the spreading alarm, a growing number of men from militias around the region were in pursuit of the British who were marching back to Boston. By late afternoon, the largest and fiercest engagement of the day occurred in here in Menotomy. It’s another part of the story on for this important day for our town, state and country.

This year the Arlington Historical Society and Menotomy Minutemen are partnering with several companies of Colonial reenactors to hold a battle staged on the very spot it took place 241 years ago. 

"As Jason Russell proclaims 'An Englishman’s home is his castle,' not only is he defining that particular moment but he is stating the core belief of the colonists: If you have worked to build a life and a home, you have the right to enjoy the fruits of your labor. This belief would be elegantly restated in 1776 as "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Also the Menotomy Minutemen led the flag raising at the Town Hall flagpole at 9 a.m. followed by a brief memorial ceremony at the Old Burying Ground.

Parade grand marshal

rolychaput 150Roly Chaput addresses selectmen. / Barbara C. Goodman photo

This year those involved are honoring the late Roland E. Chaput. His wife, and family are honored to “Ride for Roly."

Roly was a Korean War Army Veteran who served his country with distinction from July 9, 1953, to June 2, 1955. Not only serving his country, Roly served his community and made significant contributions to Arlington.

He was a Town Meeting Member for more than 44 years; he served on the Redevelopment Board, Conservation Committee, and on the Boards of the Friends of Robbins Farm Park, the Dallin Museum, and the Arlington Committee on Tourism and Economic Development. Roly had a tremendous influence on all those he served with, both near and far, and it is with great pride he is honored as the 2017 Grand Marshal.

Honorary grand marshals

Honorary Grand Marshals for the 2017 Patriots’ Day Parade were the Arlington High School Boys' Hockey Team – Super 8 champions, making Arlington “Hockey Town” again.

This marks the first Super 8 Championship in Arlington High School History and the first hockey state championship since 1971. Arlington became the first public school to win the Division 1A title since Hingham in 2017, and just the third in the 27-year history of the tournament.

As Coach of the Year, John Messuri stated, "I think it's just good for all of high school hockey that a group of seniors and juniors that could have left and played at any prep school stayed and you can't trade that. It's a win for high school Hockey."

Bands performing

Woodland String Band (from Philadelphia), Greater Boston Firefighters Pipes and Drums, Boston Windjammers, Waltham American Legion Marching Band, Roma Band Musicians, New Magnolia Jazz Band, led by Steve Gold, profiled last year here >> 

Irish American Police Officers Pipes and Drums, A-Town Brass Band, Middlesex County 4H Fife and Drums, Dedham American Legion Band – Post 18, Tony Barrie Marching Band, Middlesex County Volunteers Fife & Drums, Dirty Water Brass Band, Ancient Order of Hibernean Pipes and Drums

Marching units, community groups

Arlington Police Department, and Honor Guard
Arlington Fire Department, and Honor Guard
Auxiliary Emergency Management
Surrounding Communities Fire and Rescue Vehicles
Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Honor Guard and Vehicles
State Police Mounted Unit

Other units, groups

Armstrong Ambulance, Antique Cars, Menotomy Minutemen, Acton Minutemen; invited federal, state, county and municipal elected and appointed dignitaries

The Leatherneck Society, Arlington Committee on Tourism and Economic Development, Arlington Council on Aging, Touchdown Club, Arlington Boys and Girls Club, Lynn and Jen’s Dance Studio, Arlington Chamber of Commerce, NH Governors Horse Guard, Arlington Animal Control, Moving Forward Arlington, Arlington Knights of Columbus, Arlington Hockey Club, A-Dog and ACMI, Arlington Lodge of Elks, Arlington Soap Box Derby, Arlington Center for the Arts, Arlington Girl Scouts,

Regent Theatre, St. Athanasius the Great Greek Orthodox Church, 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Housing Corp of Arlington, Arlington Childrens Theater, Arlmont Fuel, Arlington Overcoming Addiction, Arlington for All, Food Link, Arlington Public Schools Green Teams, Arlington Little League, True Story Theater, Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, Joe Miksis Monster Trucks, and Arlington Department of Public Works.

If you would like to make a donation, or get further details please visit

Easter moves up schedule

Historically, the parade has taken place the Sunday before Patriots Day. This year, Easter Sunday falls on the day before Patriots Day, so the parade will take place the following week.

The event resumed in 2016 after a year off. Town funds have supported the effort since 1926.

The route is expected begin at Brattle Square and travel down Mass. Ave. to Linwood Street. The main reviewing stand will be located at Town Hall. Use the hashtag #ArlPats2017 to post your photos and follow the parade on social media.

The parade committee is also seeking donations and sponsors for the parade. For more information about sponsorship and parade day activities, visit

On Monday, Feb. 27, the Board of Selectmen approved these events related to Patriots Day >>

Planning background

To help plan parade participation and recruit groups to march, Arlington for All held a subcommittee meeting Wednesday, March 15, at the Jefferson Cutter House.

Arlington for All (hashtag #arl4all) grew out of a commission meeting last summer. An overflow crowd of community members expressed concern about a number of troubling hate incidents that had been occurring in town. A town statement Feb. 21 documented that such incidents continue.

To address the incidents in a positive, nonreactive way, Arlington for All was born. It is envisioned as a townwide campaign, incorporating a number of town organizations, faith communities, schools, arts groups and individuals.

The traditional reasons for the parade will also be observed. The annual parade pays tribute to the brave citizens of Massachusetts that helped forge our nation's mantle of liberty. The parade is a tribute to our armed forces and represents the history and origins of our U.S. military. 

Patriots Day is a special state holiday commemorating the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War, April 19, 1775. The village of Menotomy (now Arlington) was on Concord Road (now Mass. Ave.) between Boston and Lexington. Following the skirmishes that took place in Lexington and Concord, 11 Colonist and two Redcoats were killed in battle in Menotomy, making it the bloodiest fighting on the first day of the American Revolution.


Diamond: Leader Bank

Platinum includes: Davidson Management (Ed Davidson), Johns Landscape Services and Arlington Orthodontics.

Gold includes: Bowes Realty, Belmont Orthodontics, Knights of Columbus Council No. 109 and the Family of Joan Caterino (in her loving memory).

Silver includes: American Legion Post 39Cambridge Savings Bank, Coldwell Banker, Common Ground, DeVito Funeral Home, JVT Realty, Kalivas Insurance Agency, Keefe Funeral Home, Mystic Wine Shop, Rogers & Hutchins Funeral Home, Watertown Savings Bank.

OLD PHOTOS: 1957 parade | 1975 | 1925 | 1896 | NEW PHOTOS: REENACTMENT, PARADE

April 18, 2016: Patriots Day Parade marches again after a year of

This news announcement was published Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, and updated April 29, to add a subheadline. Bob Sprague wrote the commentary.