(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, June 30, 2011) — Today we take on another of Pittsfield Third Rails.

Everybody loves a parade, right? And when that parade is billed as “your Hometown parade,” loving comes as easy as a swan paddling through Lake Tranquility, right? However, what if “your Hometown parade” consisted of largely imported talent, ringers, and costly staging that tries to make it more that it is or even should be? Then you would have the city of Pittsfield’s annual exercise in excess, the Fourth of July Parade.

From the First Step, the Parade Will Be $41,ooo in Debt

The following blurb comes from the Pittsfield Fourth website:

This year’s parade has nearly 140 marching units, including seven helium balloons, one of which is a three-tiered birthday cake balloon.

The parade committee has raised nearly $49,000 of the $90,000 needed to stage the event.  Look for the ‘bucket brigade’ along the parade route looking for cash donations in their specially marked red, white and blue pails.

That’s what we’re talking about: 140 marching units, each of which get paid, and seven Macy’s-style balloons, for a $90,000 event that will last two hours. In this challenging economic era, that’s wasteful to borderline insane. At $45,000 and hour, it’s almost as much as some city cops make.

The parade is big. It’s garish. It’s loud … but it’s not Pittsfield. Or maybe it is: It will take place $41,000 in debt. Fiscal irresponsibility, as we just saw with the annual Budget Follies, is a way of life in the Land of Benigno Numine.

‘Nice Guys’ and “Hard Work” Are Never Good Defenses for an Incorrect Policy

And yeah, THE PLANET knows: The Parade Committee works long hours to produce the event, they’re all “nice guys,” and they help little old ladies who get knocked over by the tether lines from the Macy balloons. We commend each of these dedicated volunteers:

President : 
Betsy Bean 

Vice President: 
Jeffrey Hunt

Treasurer & Coordinator: 
Peter Marchetti

Joanne Hayes

Michelle Jones

Bonnie Jones

Alexandra Warshaw

Pat Kelly
Claudia White

Colleen Donahue

Beck Tefft

Dennis Burke

Peter White

Ellie Persip

Ken Wheeler

The Halloween Parade: Now THAT’S a hometown parade

And all of the hard work and good intentions is besides the point. A genuine “Hometown” parade would look nothing like this, would cost 95% less, and would be just as entertaining. If you want to know what the Fourth of July parade should like, take a gander at the city’s Halloween Parade. It consists of homemade floats, kids in costume, cyclists, and the like. It exudes honesty the way the Fourth parade drips disingenuousness. The question is: Why? Why the ruse? THE PLANET has a theory.

A Show of Defensiveness from a City Either Afraid to be Itself or that Does Know What or Who It Is

The over-the-top nature of the Pittsfield Parade might be a reaction to the fact that the city is rotting from the core. There are few good paying, good benefits, private sector jobs. The tax base is shrinking. The tax rates are rising. Cost of living is up. Each census reflects the fleeing of the middle class and the influx of people in various states of “needy.” The majority of kids in the school system are either special needs kids or from impoverished or chaotic homes. The downtown is unsafe. Drugs and crime are out of control. The list goes on and on.

The Parade Committee has subconsciously chosen to present Pittsfield as a city that doesn’t exist, a fantasy every bit as unreal at the floating, three-story birthday cake balloon that will make up one of the attractions.

Should we spell it out? As you say, then: The Fourth of July Parade has become politicized, taken over by vested interests that want to advertise the pretense that the city is flourishing. The nature of this parade testifies to a defensiveness that becomes apparent once the last marcher hits Beloved Wahconah Park.

The parade ends. Pittsfield then becomes itself. The downtown empties out, leaving the refuse to blow in the wind.

Here’s the Solution: ‘Be Yourself’

None of this is necessary. The city had enough belief in itself, for decades, to make this parade fit the quality and quantity of the city. Citizens ran it. The firemen’s muster ran it. In 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, the city didn’t even have a parade. Rather than a sign of weakness, that was a sign of strength. Pittsfield didn’t need to pretend. It KNEW who it was and what it was.

Today, it’s just the opposite. Some $90 Grand will be wasted on a two-hour commercial for something that doesn’t exist. A parade much more modest, costing a fraction of $90 Gs, could make citizens just as happy and a whole lot more proud.

The backers of the parade in its present form will distort THE PLANET’s words. Being creatures of politics, some of them, not all, will use these constructive critiques for their own selfish gain. THE PLANET will be the monster on campus, the writer with daggers in his hands, the Beast to their Beauty, the “this,” the “that.”

So be it. We can’t control that, and we NEVER worry about or fret over things we can’t control. We are confident that a neutral observer, weighing all the social, political, and economic factors involves, will agree with THE PLANET. Logic and reason, and every form of sober analysis, proves that our view — while it won’t prevail — is nonetheless correct.






  1. Angela
    June 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    A swan? Are his feet paddling?

  2. Dusty
    June 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Dan I think you are right that you will be castigated for your parade comments.

    However, I personally agree with all you said about it. It is not a parade anyway. It is a circus. Maybe the little tykes have a fun couple of hours but other than that it is for the vendors, and the politicians, and by the way, is the parade committee going to release the spread sheet on this parade this year? I would love to see where that 90 grand really goes.

    And the Eagle says they expect 100,000… are they talking about the flies that will be there to eat from the discarded food containers?

    • Jake
      June 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

      Dan Please stay in Stockbridge for the parade. REDACTED. FOUL LANGUAGE. Please do not come to Pittsfield any more, We don’t want you and your anti Pittsfield bloggers, Stay REDACTED MORONIC LANGUAGE out! Go some where you will be happy{If there is such a place!} REDACTED. LIES. May God be with you. WEBMASTER’S NOTE: THE PLANET HAS INFORMED US TO PUBLICLY WARN THE POSTER “JAKE” TO STAY ON TOPIC AND IN A CIVIL WAY, OR HE WILL BE BANNED FROM THE SITE AND PUBLICLY FLOGGED IN PARK SQUARE.

      • Joetaxpayer
        June 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

        Jake,take a deep breath,I live in pittsfield and have for over 20 years.I dont always agree with Dan,but on this one must take his side.Just because Dan does not reside in Pittsfield doesnt mean he shouldnt have his own view on the parade situation.You seem to have some personal problem with Dan,that has nothing to do with this parade blog.

  3. Loan Ranger
    June 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    I follow this site from the great state of Texas.where I now live. Had to move out of the city to fnid a job in my field. my mom and dad still live in Pittsfield. They have been saying this for a coupleyears now, what the writer makes as a point in this piece. Planet deals the truth even when it hurts

  4. joe blow
    June 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Wow……for a guy who’s often right on target about a lot of things, your parade comments are really off the mark.

    It’s funded by donations and the hard work of volunteers and is attended by tens of thousands of people who have enjoyed it for for years and all you want to do is rain all over the parade.

    Yes, Pittsfield has it’s share of problems for sure, but this is a great example of people in the community stepping up to put on an event that they and thousands of other people feel is worth the effort. They should be lauded for their efforts, not ridiculed.

    Sometimes I read your blog and am impressed by how perceptive you are, and then other times like this I read it and think how you come across as a smug, self serving, South County elitist.

    I wish at some point you would step up and actually run for office or make a genuine effort to use your intellect for more than just making snide commetary and belittling the efforts of people who care and are trying to make a difference.

    • Jake
      July 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      Great Blog!

    June 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Jake: You must be a real cruel person. If you don’t agree thats one thing but to post these cruel remarks are way out of line, Who the hell are you to tell anyone to stay out of Pittsfield. And to attack his personal life is way out of line. You should review your own before you throw stones.

  6. gEE Whiz
    June 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    @JAKE WOah, big guy. You just proved who’s the moron. Gotta mirror? PLANET, we love you!!

  7. Dee
    July 1, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    Yet through all of this post and the resulting comments no one mentions the absence of local marching bands in the “Hometown” parade. This is the biggest travesty. And why? Because of money. It always comes down to the bottom line of who has it and who wants it.

    At least with the parade one can see where the money goes. Do I personally feel that 90K is unrealistic in this economy – yup, sure do. But, I’m not the one organizing and I’m not the one donating. Money collected in 2010 actually pays for 2011 parade. Thus, money collected in 2011 pays for 2012 parade. If donations stopped today – at about 49K – it would force the parade committee to downsize for next years’ parade. Eventually the economy will catch up with the extravagence and push it back into the realm of realistic.

  8. jethro Bodine
    July 1, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    These figures do not add up. Not one city high school marching band. No PHS or THS bands. $90,000.00 spent on a garish (Uncle Jed taught me that word) whatever (it ain’t a parade). We live in Pittsfield but would never attend the whatever. The reasons expressed in the column make total sense. planets not saying don’t have a parade only have a parade that fits the character of the town instead of pretending were nyc.

  9. Tom
    July 1, 2011 at 4:26 am #

    You’re all looking at this wrong. The parade is a show, and a pretty good show. If many city folks are down and out and not able to afford much in the way of entertainment, even more reason to present a big, loud, garish show on our holiday. Our treatment of Christmas is much more worthy of criticism.

  10. beezer
    July 1, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    @ jethro, speaking of your dad, go see if Jed can make up the difference. That Jed, he’s a millionaire.

  11. Baby Baby
    July 1, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Remember…the mayor is leaving July 1st…you heard it here first.

    Dan, do you ever talk about the rumors that you spread (start) when you are wrong?

    • Jake
      July 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

      Baby Baby When you don’t get a reply then you know Dans answer! Good point!

  12. hernando hideaway
    July 1, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Must weight in here. Iv’e held my tongue too long. Been in agreement on this issue for a few years now. Have felt that the parade has “gotten out of hand”. Too much, too big. Now theyre too big to invite the high school bands. Shame on the parade committee for not extending the invtation or wanting the marching units of the two high schools. We have a son and a daughter in school band. Trrible treatment, and we shall reember at the polls mr. marcheti.

  13. beezer
    July 1, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    All I have to say is Marchetti does a good job. The question is, will his love for the parade be just as intense after he loses the election.

    • danvalenti
      July 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      PETE does a GREAT job with the parade. Agreed.

  14. Baby Baby
    July 1, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    The schools were invited. Its the teacher contract of “work to rule” that shut the kids out, not the parade committee.

  15. JOE
    July 5, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Your a Bitter As*hole. And you need to find friends and get a life!