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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Fall Foliage Festival 2006

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fall Foliage Festival Parade Director Paul Renaud
North Adams - Excitement is building in anticipation of this year's Fall Foliage Festival, the Oct. 1 festival parade and the appearance of parade Grand Marshal state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley.

"We're really excited this year about having Dan as the grand marshal," said parade committee Director Paul Renaud. "He is a great choice for Grand Marshal."

The 51st parade is scheduled to step off from the Curran Highway Wal-mart store parking lot on Sun., Oct. 1 at at 1 p.m..

Float Prizes Increased

Renaud is hoping for increased float participation this year. Float construction does require a time commitment, he acknowledged.

"There was a time when high schools, businesses and organizations all built floats," he said. "Times have changed and we don't all have the luxury of free time. One of the biggest concerns is finding a space to create one of these."

But should schools or organizations find time and space, they could be in the running for prizes and recognition. Cash prizes are offered for parade floats, and the prize money was increased for the 2006 float competition.


One of the 2005 Fall Foliage parade floats...this one was designed and built by Bruce Hayden of North Adams.
A Directors Award of $200, a Grand Marshal Award of $250, a $350 Mayor's Award, a $350 Hayden Award, and a Harry S. Orr $400 award are set to be presented to the best of the best of the floats.

All parade floats will be photographed and a Participation Award plaque will be given to all float entries.

Band Participation Growing

Another exciting development is the commitment of over a dozen bands to participate in the parade.

"It's mid-August and we've already got 17 bands lined up," Renaud said.

More bands are expected to join the line-up.

Renaud credited the efforts of Pittsfield resident James "Jim" Brassard with band participation success. Brassard is the force that organizes the bands and the band competition, which is judged by professional band judges. Under Brassard's leadership, band participation has increased over the past few years, Renaud said.

Behind The Scenes

The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce is "vital" to the parade, Renaud said.

"They are the ones working the budget, getting the information out to the media, they do so much work for this," Renaud said.

Rod Bunt of the city's Mayor's Office of Tourism and Culture is another tremendous parade supporter, Renaud said.

High school marching contingents are a big part of the parade.


"He's been on the committee since I started and he does a great job," Renaud said."He is very involved."

The parade committee is made up of about 10 to 15 members who meet regularly and hit their stride as parade day approaches. On parade day, the group demonstrates how to pull it all together, Renaud said.

"It's an absolute zoo on parade day and the parade directors just get it all going," he said. "I can't thank them enough. Everyone has an expertise that they bring to parade day and it all just clicks."

Renaud confessed that his "favorite" parade pleasure is carrying a banner and marching the parade route.

"That's my very favorite thing and I just love doing it," he said.

And The Theme Is...

This year's theme was brought forward by former parade Grand Marshal Anthony Sacco.

"He just popped in to one of our meetings and said 'how about this' " Renaud said, and added that the idea found favor with committee members.

Themes have also been chosen by committee members and on occasion, with help from the public, he said.

Festival Events, New And Traditional

New to the week-long festival is a Mini-Cooper rally being organized by Francis Gaspardi. The rally includes a Sept. 30 vehicle junket to Mount Greylock, and planned participation in the parade. Gaspardi may be reached at a FandR55@earthlink.net e-mail address.

A festival favorite, the Children's Parade, is set for Fri., Sept. 29, and is expected to kick off at 5:30 p.m. from the juncture of Eagle and Main Streets.


2005 Children's Parade participants
The Children's Parade also shares the "Holidays Around the Globe" theme, and Renaud said that he believes the area's youth can create some exciting floats.

"Get your thinking caps on and let's see what you can come up with," Renaud said.

Children's Parade group and float winners are invited to participate during the Oct. 1 parade. Those interested in participating in the Children's Parade are asked to call Kathy Keeser at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition at 413-663-7588.

Additional events include a popular Fall Foliage Festival Leaf Hunt, which begins Sept.23 and concludes Oct. 8. Colorful paper leaves will be hidden at various scenic spots and "leaf hunters" are asked to read a selection of clues to be published in local newspapers. Those who follow the clues to a paper leaf are awarded a prize.

A children's road race and children's fair are scheduled for Sept. 24. The Joe Wolfe Field, at the Noel Field Athletic Complex, will host the race. Five age categories mean children as young as three years old and under may participate. Trophies are awarded to race winners.The event is free and pre-registration is recommended because of the popularity of the event. Additional information is available at 413-664-6180.

Two of the Fall Foliage Festival 2005 Children's Road Race winners.


The Western Gateway Heritage State Park is the site of the fair. Admission is free and low-cost refreshments are expected to be offered. Entertainment and games round out the fair. Additional information is available by calling 413-663-6312.

"Then, It's All Fun"

As each event unfolds, momentum and anticipation for "parade day" builds. Hundreds of Northern Berkshire families and visitors are expected to line the parade route and traditionally, crowds gather no matter what the weather. The parade was cancelled only once, during an unanticipated and dangerous 1987 snowstorm.

And when the first band notes are heard, as the floats begin to roll, and the parade line-up initiates its' march toward Main Street and the cheering crowds, the result proves worthy of the efforts, Renaud said.

"Once [the parade] goes, it goes, and then, it's all fun."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail atsuebush@iberkshires.com or 802-823-9367.
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