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Memories of parades gone by – The Nelson Family

By Jason Alexander
Updated May 5, 2020

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Laurie (Nelson) Schut (in red sweater) and her sister Amy at Hingham's 4th of July parade, 1968.  Photo courtesy of Laurie Schut

This year’s 4th of July parade may have been cancelled, but the Nelson family has lots of memories to draw upon.  “We’ve been going for generations,” said Laurie Schut.  “My grandparents lived in Hingham, and they started bringing their children to the parade back in the 1930’s.  My mom and uncle carried on the tradition with their own children, and my sister and I have too.”

Laurie thinks fondly back on those days from her childhood when they would meet at their friends’ house, walk to Hingham Centre Pharmacy and watch the parade.  “My sister, my cousins and I would sit and wait for good ol’ Uncle Sam to come proudly walking by,” said Laurie.  “My favorite was always the horses that were dressed up in red, white and blue to celebrate Independence Day.”

After the parade, the traditions continued.  Their group would head back to their friends’ house for a backyard cookout, and all the children would gather around in the shade waiting for the homemade ice cream to finish being made.

As the years have passed, the parade continues to be an event that their whole family looks forward to.  They meet up at Laurie’s grandparent’s house and walk over to their usual spot setting up their chairs under the awning of the pharmacy to watch the parade.  Family members still fly in from Colorado every year just to carry on the tradition.  “Even when my beloved father became very ill, he’d do his best to never skip out on a parade,” said Laurie.  “He didn’t want to miss the joy of watching his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews enjoying the Hingham parade.”

After all the bands, bicyclists, horses, floats and infantry have made their way past, the family returns to Laurie’s grandparent’s house for lawn games, barbecue, loads of potato salad, watermelon and Brigham’s ice cream (a must).  “This year would have been particularly special as my nephew and his wife are expecting their first baby, ushering in the next generation of Hingham Parade lovers,” said Laurie.

On Tuesday night a motion was put forward by the Fourth of July Parade Committee to recommend to the Selectmen that this year’s parade be cancelled.  “It is a decision that the Committee discussed very thoroughly over the past several months,” said Jim Murphy, Chair of the Committee. “Cancelling the Hingham 4th of July Parade was the result of a thorough review of the available information and meetings with the Hingham Safety officials from the police and fire departments, as well as the organizers of the Harborworks (fireworks) and the Road Race.  It was a unanimous decision.  Our main focus was the health and safety of those participating in our 4th of July events, as well as the tens of thousands of expected spectators.”

So the Nelson family’s tradition has pressed pause for the first time in many years.  “This makes my family super disappointed,” said Laurie.  “This will be the first time in generations that we haven’t had a parade.”  They will be sure to take it all in next year though, because, according to Laurie, Hingham’s 4th of July parade “really doesn’t get better than this” for her and her family.  “And by the way,” she added, “the horses are still my favorite!”

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Laurie (Nelson) Schut (in red sweater) and her sister Amy at Hingham's 4th of July parade, 1968.  Photo courtesy of Laurie Schut