It really takes a village to make this parade happen. An America-loving village of dedicated, unpaid committee members and volunteers that work year round. In fact, the first committee meeting for the 2016 parade is already set, and it’s happening a mere 12 days after this year’s celebration on July 16. “We do it because we believe in Independence Day,” says Ray Lavey, General Chairman. “It’s incredibly gratifying to be a part of it all.”
One of the biggest (and most sought after) positions is that of the Chief Marshal. Hand-selected by the General Chairman, the honorary role is filled by a different Bristol resident each year. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a lifelong resident to hold the dignified title. “We look for individuals that are longstanding, upstanding and outstanding contributors to the good of our town,” Ray explains. Raymond Gallison, Jr, this year’s Chief Marshal, has a deep resume of doing good deeds for the community at large. From being an environmental advocate to serving on Senator Reed’s Veteran’s Advisory Council, Raymond has an impressive list of accolades, achievements and awards (you can read his bio on www.july4thbristolri.com). You can spot Chief Marshal Gallison at all of the official Fourth of July events.
You might be wondering, how can I be a MVPP? You can start by supporting the parade financially. From showing up at a fundraiser to purchasing a patriotic state license plate to throwing in some change when the hat gets passed around, there’s no shortage of ways to give back. You can even become an acknowledged Proud Sponsor of the parade. A tiered donation system starting at $30, the annual contribution gets you an official listing on the parade’s website.
To make a donation, send a check made payable to the Bristol Fourth of July Committee, P.O. Box 561, Bristol RI 02809. Include your name, mailing address and email address with your donation. Visit www.july4thbristolri.com for other ways to get involved.