FRAMINGHAM, MA --The Framingham Celebration Committee announced that it is planning to change Framingham’s annual Flag Day Celebration this year. In a meeting of Celebration Committee board members it was voted that for 2006 the committee would hold a Flag Day Festival in place of the usual parade down Concord Street and up Union Avenue.
This year, the organizers of Flag Day Celebrations are planning a Flag Day Festival event in June to be held on the grounds of Tercentennial Park. The culmination of the event will be a Flag Day Procession that includes the traditional participation of Veterans groups, patriotic marchers and marching bands, much like the parade has in years past. “The Flag Day Festival event will allow us to continue the tradition of celebrating Flag Day in Framingham,” said Doug Freeman, the committee’s chairman. The free event will feature band concerts, classic cars, dealers, an outdoor flea market and craft show as well as food and entertainment.
The Flag Day Festival and the Flag Day Procession will be held on the date the parade would have originally been scheduled, Sunday, June 11th. The Procession will begin at 2PM that Sunday and end its march at Cushing Chapel on the grounds of Tercentennial Park. It will include marching bands playing patriotic music, veterans groups, community groups and will be immediately followed by the traditional flag retirement ceremony run by the Framingham Veterans Council.
Doug Freeman, the Celebration Committee's chairman said, "We regret the fact that the traditional parade will not be held this year." Freeman stated that the parade has experienced dwindling attendance in the last few years and he pointed out that the level of volunteers the last few years has also been waning. In addition Freeman said “the parade route through downtown Framingham creates a traffic nightmare for police.”
Fundraising for the traditional parade has been off in the past few years he said, "Givers have had increased demands put on them and we’ve seen reduced donations as they try to satisfy all the requests they are getting.”
“We hope people come to the Flag Day Festival on June 11th; we see it as a transitional event that will allow us to celebrate Flag Day and continue the Celebration Committee's mission.”
Freeman hopes the Flag Day Festival format sets the stage to change the tradition of Flag Day Celebrations into a different kind of patriotic event.
The committee had hopes of keeping the parade going this year being the 20th year of Celebrating Flag Day in Framingham but it was time to change the celebration into something different. "We have talked for a number of years about turning the parade into a patriotic family day like the Flag Day Festival." Freeman said. "But we have never been able to afford both a festival and the parade," he added. "This year we have finally made our choice,” he said.
As to those that have always supported the parade, Freeman said the committee still needs money to run the festival. Freeman said, "The timing is short and those that have already given toward the parade or pledged a donation have our gratitude.”
The traditional parade usually costs about $25,000 but this year’s festival should be a more modest, making the it easier to raise the necessary funds according to Freeman. "Last year we just made our fundraising goal, we don’t want to have that problem again,” said Freeman.
The Flag Day Festival event will feature some of the bands that were originally intended to march in the parade. “It should be a fun event for people to attend, bring the kids,” said Freeman.
There will be food and drink available but people are also encouraged to pack a picnic. People that have old or tattered flags that need to be disposed of in a proper, respectful way should plan to bring them to the event for the flag retirement ceremony at the conclusion of the Flag Day Festival on Sunday.
Contributions can be sent to: Framingham Celebration Committee, 475 Union Ave., Framingham, MA 01702. For further information, call Doug Freeman at 508-879-6394.