PITTSFIELD ‘FOURTH’ PARADE: $41Gs in debt and $90Gs WASTED ON A TWO-HOUR COMMERCIAL FOR A CITY THAT DOESN’T EXIST
By DAN VALENTI
(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
Secretary: Joanne Hayes
Directors: Michelle Jones
Pat Kelly Claudia White
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.
THIS WEEKEND, MUCH IS COMING YOUR WAY FROM THE PLANET. STAY TUNED!
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL