Memorial Day as a Catalyst for Placemaking, Historical Learning, and Acts of Kindness

Memorial Day as a Catalyst for Placemaking, Historical Learning, and Acts of Kindness

For some, Memorial Day is a deeply personal holiday, a day for remembering those who have served the people of our country. Participating in these Memorial Day celebrations and ceremonies can also be a form of placemaking, strengthening ties to community spaces and encouraging social interaction between generations. These events also offer a chance to personally thank local veterans and recognize them for their bravery and service.

Ceremonies to honor veterans on this holiday often take place in outdoor, common spaces such as Main Streets, sidewalks, and town commons.

As friends, neighbors, and community members gather in these areas, opportunities for small acts of kindness arise. For example, families can bring a bouquet of daisies or loaves of fresh baked bread to a Memorial Day parade to share with veterans as small tokens of gratitude.

Memorial day parades thus invite people to engage with their communities in placemaking. Participating in parades by marching alongside an organization or viewing the parade from a common space thus supports individual health and well-being by strengthening a connection to place.

This day of remembrance is also a chance to learn about history from a local perspective. A sample of community events to honor Memorial Day include:  Read the rest of this entry »

The Wonders of Summer, Family & Community

Making Memories

Real-home-town parades for the 4th of July. (Photo credit: Dana Pilson)

There’s nothing better than a good old red white and blue, wrapped yourself up in an American flag, July fourth holiday. And nothing says July fourth better than a parade and fireworks. This year proved to be one of the best. Our little village puts on a real-home-town parade, replete with sirening fire engines, antique cars sporting American flags, proud selectmen, a tiny marching band, baseball players, prancing miniature ponies, and bringing up the rear, on pony clean-up duty, a former Massachusetts governor driving a golf cart. The whole town turns out — and every year, Daisy and I struggle with the decision: should we march in the parade, or watch? We could march with the library, our CSA, Daisy’s dance troupe, or her school. Or we could sit on the curb and cheer, collecting candy tossed from the floats. Author Elizabeth Winthrop, a part-time Berkshires resident, wrote The Biggest Parade, a children’s book based on the Williamstown parade. The mayor in the story is so concerned with making sure everyone has a role in the parade that there’s no one left to watch!

Spectators clap and cheer the parade on, including Dana and her daughter, Daisy.

This year, we decided to be spectators. Seated on the sidewalk amongst friends and family, we clapped and cheered and held our ears to block out the wailing fire engine sirens. We sprang up to gather candy and waved to the selectmen and all our friends marching with various groups. As usual, we procured a free balloon from the toy store, enjoyed a festive free barbecue, and had a slice of birthday cake proffered by the local coffee shop. These are memories in the making. Each year, we add to the store of July fourth memories, cementing in Daisy’s head what it means to create traditions: not just family traditions, but communal.

In the evening, we usually travel to Bennington, VT, to watch fireworks, even though they start around 9:30pm and we don’t manage to get back home until close to 11pm. Some families might argue that fireworks start too late, there are too many teenagers tossing firecrackers at each other, and the kids need to be in bed. But July fourth comes but once a year. What do I want Daisy to remember: an evening spent like most others? Or the excitement of heading out to the local park, finding a spot on the hill for our blanket and chairs, munching on cold grapes as toddlers race around with sparklers, watching the golden sunset as the stars, moon and planets emerge, and then, finally, after so much waiting, witnessing the magic as the sky lights up with exploding colors?

We have so few opportunities to create lasting visceral memories. Fireworks can hardly be caught on film, you cannot capture the boom that rattles your insides, the crackle and sputter, or the screaming of the twirly whirlies. Words can’t adequately describe the feel of the cool evening grass in your toes, the taste of quickly melting ice cream, the smell of the sizzling sparklers, uttering in unison “ooh, aah, peachy keen,” and then the absolute darkness when the fireworks end and we feel our way back down the hill towards the parking lot. These all must be felt, and experienced using all our senses.

July fourth may be our country’s birthday, but it is also a celebration of the wonders of summer, family, and community. Our family might be small, a tiny unit of three, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make big, rich memories to last a lifetime.



Dana “Dee” Pilson

Dee lives with her professor husband and young daughter in rural Pownal, Vermont, just over the state line from Williamstown, Massachusetts. She is an art historian and has worked in museums in New York City, Boston, and Williamstown. She has been an avid writer since the tender age of eight, filling journals with personal essays and short stories, as well as mounds of poetry, both serious and whimsical. New Yorker by birth, New Hampshire-ite by schooling, and now Vermonter by choice, Dee writes about art and architecture, the environment, books, food, exercise, travel, and green living. Her new blog, “The Power of One,” focuses on issues related to parenting an only child in today’s child-centric world.

63rd Annual Independence Day Parade in the Hilltowns

63rd Annual Independence Day Parade 2010
Chesterfield, MA

Click here to see larger image

The Town of Chesterfield will host its 63rd annual Independence Day Parade on Sunday July 4th. This year’s parade promises to be better than ever bringing fun and family attractions that have made this event a Hilltown tradition.  See photos from last year’s parade here.

The parade will feature bands, floats, animals, clowns, antique and collectable cars and fire and emergency vehicles.

Activity Schedule:

  • 7:00 – 10:00 Pancake Breakfast (Firehouse)
  • 8:00 –   3:00 Food / Vendor Booths
  • 9:00 –   1:30 Quilt Display (Church)
  • 9:00 –   1:30 Historic Exhibit (Town Hall)
  • 10:30   PARADE
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Heritage Pops Concert (Town Center)
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Barbeque Chicken Lunch (Church)
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Petting Zoo
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Kid’s Fun (Magic Show, Face Painting)
  • 12:00 – 1:30 Fireman’s Muster (Playing Field)
  • 1:30 – 3:00 Family Softball (Playing Field)

There is plenty of on-site parking

Suggested Events 05/29/10-06/04/10

Like This!

Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.


With temps soaring past 95-degrees this past week, families cooled off with snow cones from Town Farm at the Tuesday Farmers' Market in Northampton, while others headed to Musante Beach, Ashfield Lake, Splash Park at Look Park or the Westfield River. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.


Friday, May 28th at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield: Freshly smoked pork, spare ribs and kielbasa, potato salad, cole slaw, beans and corn bread -or- double-crusted Spinach Pie with fresh spinach, red onions, garlic, mozzarella and feta cheeses. BYOB 628-4003

Friday, May 28th at Blue House Cafe in Haydenville: Tex-Mex Chalupa – a grilled burrito with organic black beans and brown rice, our homemade vegetarian sloppy joe, salsa, spinach, cheddar cheese and sour cream;  Arugula Pesto Panini (vegan version available); and  Thai Coconut Soup with vegetables and tofu. Gluten-free and vegan dishes too. BYOB. 268-7441

Saturday, May 29th at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Veggie Lassagnia, Garlic Bread and side salad. Sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza (including Gluten-Free pizza!). Open mic! Beer & wine available. 268-7757


Saturday, June 5th, 12noon-4pm: Holyoke Youth ExtravaGREENza, Nuestras Raices Farm “La Finca,” 245 High Street, Holyoke. Students from Holyoke Works’ new Green Careers Program share their work on environmental issues: global warming and climate change, recycling, increased bike use in the city, safe chemicals in the workplace and at home, energy audits and weatherization, and school and community gardens. Nuestras Raices’ Food and Fitness Project will kick off the event with a “Raw Feast.” Following lunch there will be interactive learning opportunities by all groups, with music and a green-themed raffle.  For more information, contact Laura Porter at Holyoke Works at 413-532-2683 or email


On June 4th, Chris Smither will be performing a Friday night fund-raising concert at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School … and we have a 4-pack of free tickets along with a signed CD to offer one lucky person! Deadline to enter to win is 05/28/10. Find out how to enter to win HERE.


BECOME A SPONSOR: Hilltown Families supports sustainable development of our local economy. Local businesses, individuals, institutions and schools are encouraged to become sponsors and communicate with our large, family-oriented audience. Get the word out about the valuable services you offer while you support Hilltown Families’ work in building community.  Please email for details.

Michael Kalagher of Plainfield, MA writes: Richard Shephard from Cummington is using his talents to assist environmental groups in documenting the tragedy on the Gulf Coast. See some of his work at There is also an important blog you can link to from his site.

Nan of Ashfield, MA writes: No-Risk Kid Meals at Elmer’s in Ashfield.  Beginning this week, kids aged six and under eat Free between 5 and 6:30 pm (when they are with a regular-paying person over the age of six!)  I saw that on a billboard while I was driving back from New Orleans and thought, “Man, what a good idea!”

Beth Skolnick Bigelow wrote: There is a Native American Indian Pow Wow this weekend (Sat, Sun and Mon) at Indian Plaza, Route 2 in Charlemont, MA. It is a nice family event.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: West County Resilence Conversation is looking for volunteers to help during Riverfest in Shelburne Falls on Saturday, June 12th. Click here for more info.

MUSIC GIVEAWAY: Randy Kaplan has released a new family CD, The Kids Are All Id, and we have a signed copy to giveaway to one luck family!   Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, June 2nd 2010. Click here to enter to win.

GIRLS ART CAMP IN THE HILLTOWNS: ArtStar Girl’s Camp in Williamsburg (June 28th-July 2nd) (July 5th-July 9th) for girl’s between the ages of 8-12 will spend the day (10am-2pm) creating batik, silkscreening and tie dye as well as experiencing hand sewing and book making! Girls will be encouraged to explore their own artist expression in a relaxed lounge like environment at the private home studio of Marie Westburg, artist and Art Therapist. Sessions are limited to eight so sign up now! Cost is $180 per child. See for more information, or email

CHORUS AUDITION: The South Hadley Children’s Chorus will have auditions on Wednesday, June 2nd in 10-minute “slots” between 4-6 pm at the Center Congregational Church. Boys and Girls ages 7-14 from many Pioneer Valley towns, rehearsing Wednesday afternoons in South Hadley, from early September thru mid-May. We sing all sorts of songs—“classical”, folk songs, Broadway and jazz tunes, in English and many other languages. Audition is informal & painless. Tests your ability to read words and “echo” the pitches you hear sung to you. Older, musically-experienced children may be asked to show knowledge of music notation. To schedule an audition time, parents should call or email Director Cathy Melhorn 413-548-1098;

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in Northampton, MA for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT!  You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets! This month we are pleased to offer a chance for two folks to win a pairs of tickets to see celebrated Nashville singer/songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman as she returns to the area with a powerful new album, Back To Love. Click here to enter to win.

SCIENCE MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Robots + Us at the Connecticut Science Center opens this weekend. This exhibit offers a playful look at how biology and engineering are coming together to close the gap between reality and the robotic dreams of some.  Build your own jitterbug robot, visit Low Life Labs and find out what robot designers are learning from.  Museum is in Hartford, CT and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm., and it will be open on Memorial Day!

FREE HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENTS:  It may be hard to believe right now, but snow and cold will be coming back! No time like the present to call and schedule your no-cost home energy assessment. Slots fill up quickly, so call today. It is free and there are great incentives to be had! WMECO and other gas and electric utility companies offer this free assessment to residents through Mass Save, the statewide home energy efficiency program. There are no income requirements to participate, and incentives include up to 75% off up to $2000 in insulation upgrades, and an even better deal on air sealing. Call 866-527-7283, or visit for more info.

Liz Friedman writes: Calling Mama Volunteers – Table for MotherWoman’s 5% Day at Whole Foods. We are looking for a couple good mama’s to help us table at Whole Foods in preparation for our big 5% Day at Whole Foods. Are you available for as little as 1 hour on any of the following days: Tuesday, June 1st 2 – 6pm; Saturday, June 5th 11am – 4pm; and Monday, June 7th 10am – 6pm. Contact

ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events.


Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Market | Listen Here

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – May 29th

6-10am – FAMILY RADIO Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at

8am-6pm – SHEEP & WOOLCRAFT FAIR: All weekend at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE)

8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: First Market of the Season! With Rhubarb Pie playing music. On the town green. Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

9am-3pm – PLANT SALE: At the Amherst Farmers’ Supply, sponsored by the 4-H. Amherst, MA (SALE)

9:30am-4:30pm – NATURE STUDIES: At the Historic Deerfield, families can investigate the diverse ingredients of soil and learn how it formed as part of the museums program, “The Earth Beneath Our Feet.”  Make soil and take home seeds to plant. 775-7214 Deerfield, MA (FREE with Admission)

9:30am-5pm- WOOL DAYS: During Wool Days Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village this weekend, families can meet the new baby animals, watch historical demos, be hands-on, take a boat ride, get crafty and much more. Sturbridge, MA ($)

10am –BIKE RIDE: Pittsfield’s Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a community bike ride, beginning at the Controy Pavilion on Onota Lake at Burbank Park. A fun way to spend an afternoon with friends and family! Younger riders are welcome and encouraged to ride the trail along the lake within Burbank Park. Registration starts at 9am. 448.9678 Pittsfield, MA

10am-6pm – CULTURAL BAZAAR: The Cultural Survival Bazaar happens this weekend on the Amherst Common. Amherst, MA (FREE)

10am-12Noon: CRAFT WORKSHOP: Make Knitting Needles for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE)

10am-5pm – CRAFT FAIR: Craft Fair in Haydenville: Fine Arts & Crafts in a Country Setting. 3 Grove Street. Haydenville, MA (FREE)

10am-5pm – HISTORIC EXPLORATIONS: Visit the 48-acre Naumkeag Estate in the Berkshires from and view Miss Choate’s tree peonies and tour her 44-room Berkshires Cottage, given intact to The Trustees of Reservations 50 years ago. Children will enjoy the “Kipper” activity pack as they explore the magical Blue Steps, Chinese Garden, Oak Lawn, Peony Terrace, Afternoon Garden and Evergreen Garden. Location: Naumkeag Estate, 5 Prospect Hill Road. 298-3239 Stockbridge, MA ($, KIDS FREE)

11am-12Noon – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Learn to Spin for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE)

11am-4pm – RIVERFEST: Riverfest at Cole Field, sponsored by the Hoosic River Watershed Association. An annual celebration of the river is fun for the entire family and includes rafting, canoeing, live music and other live performances, riverbank art, pony rides, live birds of prey, live river critters, crafts and activities for kids, good food, and more! 458-2742 Williamstown, MA ($)

12Noon-4pm – MUSUEM ADVENTURES: Chesterwood Opening Day with events for famileis, including art and nature activities, a Lincoln impersonator, live music, and the grand opening of the “Discovery Room” in the Barn Gallery. 298-3579 Stockbridge, MA ($)

12Noon-5pm – ART ADVENTURES: Canal Gallery’s Artists’ Market, between 2 canals next to the Childrens’ Museum. This Artist Market comes alive with music, food, and color. Inspired by markets of a 100 years ago; also those in warmer more colorful places and early Americana circuses & carnivals. 532-4141 Holyoke, MA

12:35pm, 1:45pm & 3pm – THEATER: Paintbox Theater will perform their twist of Cinderella at the Paradise City Arts Festival, at the 3-County Fairgrounds. Northampton, MA ($)

1pm – FLOWER SHOW: Take the kids to see the stunning beauty of the lovely Iris. The Western New England Iris Society is hosting an Iris Show a the Shelbure Buckland Community Center. Spend the day in Shelburne Falls! Shelburne Falls, MA

1-3pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Kool-Aid Dyeing for kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE)

1-3pm – CHESS: Drop-in Chess at the Forbes Library Mezzanine. Casual meets every Saturday the library is open. All competition levels are welcome. Drop in for part or all of the session. Bring your own set if you have one or use one of the library’s. Northampton, MA (FREE)

1-4pm – TEEN LITERARY EVENT: Jane Austen Tea Party at The Meekins Library. Croquet, Badminton, and Games of Chance. Jane’s favorite foods. Watch the movie “Lost in Austen.” For teens 13+ Williamsburg, MA

2-3pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Felting Treasure Bags for Kids at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE)

2-4pm – CRAFT WORKSHOP: Needle Felting For Young People (Ages 9-14) at the MA Sheep & Woolcraft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE)

4:30-6:30pm – PUPPET PERFORMANCE: Marmalade Productions and the Bumble Bee Players presents The Watershed Waltz at the Ramsdell Library. Celebrate with song, puppet fish, birds, and aquatic creatures. For all ages. 274-3738‎ Housatonic, MA

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Join Hilltown-Based MOther Earth JOurney Puppets in Noho & Hilltown Spring Festival

MOEJOS Puppet Parade & Puppet Making Workshop

Mother's Day Puppet Parade in Northampton on May 9th, the join MOEJOS for an all-day puppet-making workshop at the 4th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival on May 15th in Cummington, MA.


On May 9th, the Mother Earth and her Endangered Creatures will be taking over the streets of Northampton for the Fifth Annual Mother’s Puppet Parade and March for Peace.

This year the parade will go to Pulaski Park for a Ritual Performance by the MOther Earth JOurney Puppets (The MOEJOS) of Williamsburg, and cellist Stephen Katz of Haydenville, where a vision of sustainability brought forth by the elders will make the Great Mama sing with joy!

  • When: Mother’s Day, May 9th, 12 noon, Ritual Performance at 1 pm in Pulaski Park. (Raindate May 16th)
  • Where: Main Street, Northampton, MA. (Puppeteers will be gathering at 11am at the Bridge St. school lawn.
  • Who: The MOther Earth JOurney Puppets, including the Great Mama, the Earth, dolphins and a whale, birds and beasts, the Carbon turtle and the Hurricane bird, Tara Mama, the Fox, the Phoenix, the Windmill and the Transition Town Turtle! Plus a community of puppet makers, peacemakers, activists, the Transition Town folks, the Pedal People, MotherWoman, and many more – including you!

For more information contact: Beth Fairservis at or call 413-268-3588.


On May 15th, join the Williamsburg based MOther Earth JOurney Puppets at the Cummington Fairgrounds for the 4th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival for an all-day puppet-making workshop.  Families can create their own stick puppets, inspired by the giant marionettes at the Mother’s Day parade.

Last year’s event drew 1,500 people from across the far-flung region and this year’s family-friendly Festival will be another opportunity to celebrate the distinctive culture of the Hilltowns. This year the Hilltown Spring Festival has added a Kids-Made Craft Bazaar, featuring homemade crafts and art for sale by children up to age 13 and a maypole dance scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Hosted by EarthSpirit of Worthington.  The community maypole dance will be accompanied by traditional rhythmic stepping by multiple teams of Morris Dancers.

Celebrate Irish Heritage in Western Mass All March Long!

Celebrating Irish Heritage in Western Mass
Parades, Music, Celebrations & More

Staking a claim as the most Irish state in the Nation (24 percent of the state claims Irish ancestry), Massachusetts celebrates all month long with parades, celebrations, music and events highlighting a rich and cultural heritage. This St. Patrick’s Day season, don’t miss out on some of the biggest and most colorful parades and events happening in Western Mass, and all across the state.

To follow are events that celebrate St. Patrick’s Day happening here in Western MA:

Sunday, March 7th
2pm – IRISH TEA PARTY: Celebrate St. Patrick with entertainment and refreshments. An afternoon show that features local musicians and dancers, as well as refreshments, raffles and selection of essay contest winners from local children. At the Cultural Centre at Elms College. 413 265-2537 Chicopee, MA

Thursday, March 11th
7:30pm – THE IRISH ROVERS AT THE COLONIAL THEATRE: These international ambassadors of Irish music will deliver a rollicking, rousing performance of good cheer that will have audiences on their feet, singing and clapping along. At The Colonial Theatre, located at 111 South Street. 413 997-4444 Pittsfield, MA

Wednesday, March 17th
– St. Patrick’s Day e-coupon on March 17th. Green snow on parts of the mountain along with green beer and other special events. Click here to sign up for your e-coupons. 413 738-5500 Hancock, MA

Sunday, March 21st
Noon – ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE: The 55th annual Holyoke Parade is reckoned to be one of the largest in the nation. The parade is the culmination of numerous Irish events in March that celebrate the Irish community of western Massachusetts, many of whom emigrated from County Kerry and the Blasket Islands in the 20th century. 413 533-1700 Holyoke, MA

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Suggested Events 07/04/09-07/10/09

Fireworks in Cummington, MA

Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending


Click HERE to see the schedule for firework displays and parades happening in the Hilltowns and the Pioneer Valley.


  • July 9 – Fireflies are lightening up the skies.
  • July 10 – Blueberries will begin to ripen, starting with low bush blueberries.
  • July 13 – Listen for Snowy Tree Crickets and Katydids in the evenings.
  • July 20 –  The song of the cicadas on hot summer days start to be heard.
  • August 6 – Look for Yellow Warblers around the thistles.
  • August 19 –  Have a freshwater stream nearby?  Look for scarlet red Cardinal Flowers.

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)|Facebook

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 07/04

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Hilltown Families’ Kids Invited to March in Chesterfield’s 4th of July Parade

Kathy McMahon of Cummington, MA writes:

(Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Not only is eating fresh veggies & fruit fun, but so is dressing up as your favorite garden delicacy! Join Hilltown Home (united) Garden Exchange (HHuGE) in Chesterfield's 4th of July Parade! (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

We are going to be in the CHESTERFIELD 4TH OF JULY PARADE!

We invite all the little vegetables and fruits in our Hilltowns to show up to announce (and not to squash!) the opening of HHuGE! (Hilltown Home (united) Garden Exchange! Don’t ‘veg out!’

Don’t find yourself in a pickle, dress like one!

March and wave with us as we parade along handing out baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and cards cheering the soil, our towns and our community spirit!

Perhaps some Hilltown Families’ kids have a few veggie costumes of their own to join us? A fancy zucchini hat someone wants to show off? Edible flower bonnet?

Contact: Kathy McMahon at 634-0002,

More information at:

Chesterfield’s 62nd Annual Independence Day Parade

4th of July Parade in Chesterfield, MA

Click on flyer for larger image

Nicolas Frischer of Chesterfield, MA writes:

“Let Freedom Ring” will be the theme of this year’s July 4th parade and promises all the fun and family attractions that have made this event a Hill town tradition since 1947.

The parade which starts at 10:30am will feature marching bands, floats, animals, clowns, fire and emergency equipment and as always, one of the best displays of antique and classic automobiles.

Activities in town center will begin at 7am and run until 3pm include:

  • Pancake Breakfast
  • Food & Vendor Booths
  • Quilt Display
  • Historic Exhibits
  • Heritage Pops Orchestra
  • Chicken Barbecue
  • Kids Fun
  • Face Painting
  • Petting Zoo
  • Fireman’s Competitions
  • Family Softball

The parking field is on-site at Bryant Street and there will be ten comfort stations conveniently located around town.

Invitations remain open for any group, organization, or attraction that would like to enter a float, march or enjoy participating.

Any small donations from individuals or sponsorship contribution and recognition from area businesses would be genuinely appreciated to help offset significant reductions in State and Cultural Arts funds received in the past.

Please send donations to:

Chesterfield 4th of July Association
P.O. Box 502
Chesterfield, MA 01012

Or contact Mary Ann Coleman at 413-296-4787.

62nd Annual Independence Day Parade in Chesterfield Seeks Participants (2009)

Nicolas Frischer of Chesterfield, MA writes:

4th of July Parade in Chesterfield, MA (Photo credit: (ccl) salomedance06)

“Let Freedom Ring” will be the theme of this year’s (2009) July 4th parade in Chesterfield, MA, and promises all the fun and family attractions that have made this event a Hill town tradition since 1947.

To help make this parade better than ever, we would like to extend an invitation to groups and organizations that would like to enter a float and to marching bands and other attractions that would enjoy participating.

We are also seeking nominations for Chesterfield’s annual presentation of “Volunteer of the Year” and “Lifetime Achievement” awards.

While plans are developing to make this year’s event better than ever, we do face significant reductions in state and Cultural Arts funds that we have received in the past. We would genuinely appreciate small donations from individuals and offer area businesses sponsorship recognition for their support.

Please send award nominations and donations to:

Chesterfield 4th of July Association
P.O. Box 502
Chesterfield, MA 01012

Or contact Mary Ann Coleman at 413-296-4787.

Join the Peaceable Planet Mother’s Day Puppet Parade in Northampton

Beth Fairservis of Northampton, MA writes:

Sun Puppet

The Sun Puppet (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Join the Fourth Annual Peaceable Planet Mother’s Day Puppet Parade in Northampton, MA on Mother’s Day. The task is simple. Take some time to consider:  How care for our mothers, for our children, for other cultures mother’s and children and care for Mother Earth is important to you.

Find an image or words and some kind of medium to express it, like paint, collage, sculpture, a costume or making a puppet, (we also have puppets who need carriers if you would like to jump in one!) or just come and walk with your mothers, babies, and friends!

And join me and the Great Mama puppet, who will be pushing the Earth in a baby carriage, the sun puppet, the wind, the Grandmother and Grandfather, the Milk Mama and many others:

  • When: Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10th
  • Time: 11 am, we march at Noon
  • Where: The Bridge Street School, in Northampton, at the bottom of town on Rte 9, as you round the corner to get to the bridge towards Amherst. The School will be on your left.

We will march to Pulaski Park in Northampton, MA and have a brief ceremony in the name of Julia Ward Howe and then you are all welcome to come to my house for a potluck celebration of life-giving mother energy!

Please let me know if you are planning on coming: Beth Fairservis

Joyous Spring to you all!

V-log: Conway Festival of the Hills

V-log: Conway Festival of the Hills
by Tom Adams (Hilltown Families Contributing Writer)

Join the Adams’ on another family trip … this time to the Conway Festival of the Hills … 10 minutes of quintessential Hilltown Family fun: maple cotton candy, bunnies, dunking booths, a parade and a helicopter ride (well sorta). Perfect thing to do on a beautiful October Sunday afternoon! If you weren’t able to make it, after watching this video you’ll feel like you were right there! Enjoy.

Old Fashion 4th of July Parade in the Hilltowns (2008)

61st Annual Independence Day Parade

The Spirit of Chesterfield will be the theme for the 61st annual Independence Day parade. Since 1947, the town has hosted this event that has grown in popularity to be a Hilltown tradition and favorite.

  • The Parade kicks off at 10:30 and will feature floats, bands, clowns, live animals and antique cars.
  • The Heritage Pops Orchestra will provide musical entertainment beginning at 11:30.
  • Visitors can begin the day with a Pancake Breakfast at 7 a.m. and then enjoy numerous displays on exhibit in town center including quilts and artwork.
  • Following the parade there will be a chicken barbecue, magic show, petting zoo, Firemen’s Muster, and continued opportunities to view the displays. The Bisbee Mill Museum and Historic Society will also be open to the public.

There will be plenty of parking (nominal fee to support the area Boy Scouts) near the parade route, and except for the food, all the other activities are free.

The Parade can always use more participants. Bands, horses and buggies, antique cars, floats, and kids with costumes are welcome to be a part of the festivities. Please contact Mary Ann Coleman at 413-296-4787.

Week of the Young Child 2008

By Mindy Brown, Easthampton Family Center

As part of the National Week of the Young Child, the Easthampton Family Center and the Easthampton Community Partnership for Children is honoring young children and all those who make a difference the lives of children.

The Week of the Young Child will be celebrated April 13 – 19, 2008. Throughout the week, there will be events and activities in the community that highlight the importance of quality, affordable, and accessible early learning experiences for all children, including events in Northampton and Monson, MA.

Join the Easthampton Family Center and the Easthampton Community Partnership for Children on Sunday, April 13th, to kick off the week of festivities at the Week of the Young Child Parade and Fun & Information Extravaganza.

The parade will start promptly at 12:30 from the Public Safety Complex (50 Payson Ave). The Easthampton Police and Fire Department along with the EHS Cheerleaders and WBMS Band will lead the parade to the Easthampton High School where the Week of the Young Child Fun and Information Extravaganza will be held. Decorate your wagons and strollers, bring your musical instruments, wear a silly hat, or your favorite costume. Bring out your inner child with your child!

Click on the flyer to see we have a lot of wonderful activities planned this year and best of all the entire event is FREE.

Read the rest of this entry »

Festive Food of Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The Festive Food of Ireland by D. AllenSt. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, responsible, we are told, for converting the pagan Irish to Christianity. He used the shamrock to illustrate how three separate leaves united by one stem resembled the Trinity. To this day the shamrock, the emblem of Ireland, is proudly worn on March 17th.

Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s principal feast day, came as a welcome break during Lent in the days of austere fasting. As children we were all expected to ‘give up’ something for Lent. Our beloved sweets and sticky toffee bars were the most obvious if reluctant choice and any that came our way were carefully hoarded so we could have a mighty feast on St. Patrick’s Day.

Children still wear little green badges and the girls sport green ribbons in their hair. In many parts of the country people go to a ceili of traditional Irish dancing in the evening. Men who ‘take the pledge’ and forswear alcohol for Lent) still a surprisingly common occurrence) often celebrate on the feast day by drinking the Pota Padraig.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by Irish people both at home and abroad. In farflung corners of the world the Irish come together on this day to tuck in to corned beef and cabbage or boiled bacon and cabbage, the traditional emigrants’ meal.

(Excerpt from The Festive Food of Ireland by Darian Allen)


As you slide down the banister of life,
May the splinters never point in the wrong direction!

New Year’s Eve with the Family


This year’s First Night festivities in Northampton, MA, will begin on New Year’s Eve at noon. There will be a special 25th (Silver) Anniversary Show at the Northampton Center for the Arts, followed by a family parade. “Many silvery surprises including dancers, drummers, and giant puppets plus a special presentation of Mixed Nuts, by Double Vision. The Silver First Night Family Parade will begin at the Northampton Center for the Arts and make its way to Pulaski Park and on to Masonic, Center and Main streets. Look for the Giant Mystic Dancer Puppets!”

  • Click here to see the schedule of events.



  • Click here to read about and see photos from last year’s review of First Night Noho on Hilltown Families.


Suggested Events 10/27/07 – 11/02/07


Ashfield Halloween Haunted House 2007 (c) Sienna WildfieldHere’s a challenge for our readers, what are the origins of the “rag shag parade?” I had never heard of a rag shag parade until I moved to Western Mass. And as far I can tell, this style of parade is a local phenomenon. You don’t hear about rag shag parades happening in Minnesota or Louisiana. Not even Boston! Correct me if I’ve overlooked something, but they seem to take place largely in Western Mass, with at least eight ELEVEN happening this week. So what gives? How did they originate, and why Western Mass? I’ll throw in a free HFVS T-Shirt Review T-Shirt for the person that can come up with an answer, or at the very least a clever response.


Judging from my limited experience, rag shag parades are free-for-all community events where families dress-up in costume and loosely parade down their local town’s main drag. Sometimes fire engines lead the way, sometimes fire engines close up behind. At at the end of the parade there are typically refreshments, activities and/or a bonfire. The kids run around, the adults hide behind masks, and often times trick-or-treating begins. I’m certain there are variations to this format. We’ve been to four rag shag parades since our daughter was born. All in Western Mass and all followed a similar pattern. Share with us your favorite rag shag parade stories below in the comment box.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at Comments are warmly welcomed!

Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes | Printable Format (pdf)

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

SATURDAY – 10/27

8am – FAMILY RADIO – While traveling around town, tune-in to WXOJ 103.3 FM in Northampton, MA, from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. [All ages] (Free)

11am-3pm – FALL FESTIVAL – The Community SOL 4-H is holding a fall festival craft fair with bake sale and free activities for kids. Join families, including members from the Hilltown Families Listserv, to make straw dolls, wands and witch hats, or play dress up in the costume corner. Being held at the North Hall (40 Searle Road) in Huntington, MA. [Families] (Free/$)

11am-4pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Hairy Scary Halloween at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA. 413.263.6800 x420 [Families] ($, Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

Noon-4pm – HISTORY WORKSHOP – Learn about the kinds of things that people made by hand every day in early New England at Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA. Practice sewing or have fun making a hand-made toy out of clay to take home. Included with general admission. At History Workshop. 413.775.7214 [Families] ($/Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni2pm & 3pm – FAMILY THEATER – Picture Book Theater performs Tico and the Golden Wings at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst, MA. [Families](>$, Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

2pm-4pm- FAMILY CONCERT & HALLOWEEN EVENT – Join the Pop Rocket’s for some extra Halloween fun at Bart’s Ice Cream in Greenfield, MA. Live music and dancing, along with ice cream. Come in costume. [Families] (Free)

5pm-8pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Rag shag parade (6:30pm at the Fire Station), talent/variety show, candy swap, and trick-or-treating in Worthington, MA. 413.238.0047 [Families] (Free)

5pm-8pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Rag shag parade and trick-or-treating down Main Street in Cummington, MA. Activities at the Community House. [Families] (Free)

6:30pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Haunted Farm at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. A festive Halloween celebration, with “not-so-scary” haunted hayride, games and treats. Come in costume. [Ages 3-12]

Read the rest of this entry »

RiverFest 2007

RiverFest 2007
Celebrating Energy That’s Clean & Green

(c) Hilltown Families - RiverFest 2006 in Shelburne Falls, MA.As spring turns to summer, the village of Shelburne Falls is once again preparing for its annual educational celebration of the Deerfield River and the surrounding countryside … RiverFest 2007!

RiverFest 2007 will take place, rain or shine, on Saturday, June 9. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Energy That’s Clean & Green,” and event organizers are making sure that visitors will have plenty of opportunities to go with the flow. Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Noho

With clear winter skies and no snow in sight, you couldn’t have asked for a better day to explore all the family activities happening on Sunday afternoon for Northampton (Noho) First Night. The day’s program of activities was filled with nearly 40 venues of entertainment, including dance, theater and music at 18 different performance halls, churches and public spaces in Northampton. Well worth the trip down from the hills with something for everyone, especially families!

At twelve noon the festivities kicked off at the Northampton Center for the Arts with a Caribbean Street Carnival, presented by the Enchanted Circle Theater (ECT). ECT has been infusing arts and education for 30 year! At Noho First Night they put on a spirited performance of music, dance and storytelling. Read the rest of this entry »

Reindog Parade

(c) Hilltown Families

Hilltown families feeling adventurous this weekend headed out to Williamstown, home of the Clarke Museum. Images Cinema hosted a special movie screening of A Charlie Brown Christmas and Olive, the Other Reindeer.

Following the screenings, Spring Street was closed off for the towns annual Reindog Parade, an interesting tradition of the folks from Williamstown. The street was lined with luminaries, balloons were passed out to children, and the local public access television station was poised with their cameras to film the parade. Read the rest of this entry »

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