Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums march in the Concord Patriots Day Parade. Photo by MCVFifesandDrums

Concord for Ukraine refused spot in Patriot’s Day parade

By Betsy Levinson betsy@theconcordbridge.org
March 1, 2023

The Patriots’ Day Parade goes forward in rain, snow or muck and covers a route of approximately 2.5 miles. This year, it steps off on April 17 for its route around town.

According to the Concord Public Ceremonies and Celebrations Committee, participants include Color Guards, Cultural and Youth Groups, Dignitaries, including state and national figures as well as those from neighboring towns with ties to Concord, Minute Man Companies, and musicians. 

This year one group is not included: Concord for Ukraine did not make the cut. The group sought participation, highlighting its roots in individual freedom.

“We believe that Concord for Ukraine represents the spirit of 1775 in today’s world and would be an appreciated and important addition to the parade,” wrote spokesperson Ellen Quackenbush. “One might say, in fact, that the ‘culture’ of Concord is to celebrate and promote democracy and a people’s fight for it.”

But in a statement by the CPCCC, participation should be apolitical.

“The theme and purpose of the Patriots’ Day parade is to commemorate the events that took place in Concord on April 19, 1775, the beginning of a war in which former British subjects fought and died to give us the gift of the freedom and independence we enjoy today,” the committee stated in outlining its criteria. “It is their determination and sacrifice that the Town of Concord celebrates on Patriots’ Day. It is a uniquely patriotic and American occasion which recognizes the role played by the Town of Concord in American history. In general, the parade will not include units which to any degree are political or commercial in nature.”

At the North Bridge there is a ceremony to commemorate the engagement between the Minuteman companies and British troops with a wreath laying ceremony. The parade continues across the North Bridge and returns to Concord Center.

Select Board Chairman Matt Johnson is supporting the CPCCC. 

“While the Select Board nominates and appoints its members, the Public Ceremonies and Celebrations Committee sets the ground rules and qualifies participants in the Patriot’s Day Parade,” he wrote. “Neither the Town Charter nor the committee’s charge identify the Select Board as a “court of appeal” for those decisions. We need to respect their efforts.”