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BRATTLEBORO — Organizers of annual Fourth of July festivities couldn’t let another year go by without having Alfred Hughes Jr. parade through downtown, sharing his love for the community.
As Hughes got ready to leave the Brattleboro Union High School in the back of Downtown Brattleboro Alliance’s new pickup truck used for watering flowers and known as Bloom, he expressed joy about vaccinations against COVID-19 allowing Brattleboro Goes Fourth to go forth in a small but meaningful way.
“I like to laugh,” he said in back of the pickup during the parade. “I’m an American.”
Usually, the annual parade begins with a massive American flag and ends with Hughes in some kind of gown. Last year, event organizers had to cancel all activities due to the pandemic and released a video compilation showing Hughes throughout the last decade in which he participated in the parade.
This time around, Hughes wore a silver sequined gown and feather headdress. He spoke about the importance of community and openness as cars honked from the road, and people cheered from the sides of Canal Street and Main Street.
Love for Hughes, known simply as Alfred in the community, also came via comments on a livestream video posted on facebook.com/BrattleboroGoesFourth. His creativity and enthusiasm were commended.
Behind the wheel of Bloom was Dick DeGray, who helps run the downtown flower program. The town police and fire departments escorted.
In a Facebook post, the Brattleboro Goes Fourth committee and Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department saluted their longtime sponsors — including the Elks, C&S Wholesale Grocers, G.S Precision, Holstein Association USA and the Richards Group. They said they hope to return to their regular offerings next year.
In a statement regarding the holiday, Gov. Phil Scott said, “After 16 long and difficult months dealing with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this Independence Day, Vermonters are together once again, celebrating the birth of our great nation with friends and family. Many around the state will be attending parades, cookouts and firework displays — heading to state parks, the lake or downtown, with a new sense of independence, born from our collective efforts, hard work and determination in our battle against COVID-19.”
Since the founding of the United States, Scott said, “Vermonters have served as an example. Our response these past months has been no exception. As we enter our recovery phase, let us be inspired by the words of our founders, build on the progress we’ve made and have the courage to do things differently and boldly in pursuit of a more perfect union.”