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Community Parade Goes Back 2 The Future

4Milford Community Parades, Inc., organizers of Milford’s annual fall parade , have announced that this year’s theme will be “Back 2 The Future”. An event that has been a Milford tradition since 1939, the Milford Community Parade marches through Walnut Street of Milford, encompassing 1.7 miles stretching from South to North, through beautiful and scenic downtown Milford. This year’s festivities are scheduled to occur on Wednesday evening, October 21, 2015.

“This year’s parade will be very special.  We have some exciting things in store for those that watch along the route.  Back 2 The Future celebrates the 1980’s and all the fashion, and movies that have become must views for any family night,” commented Charles Gray, 2015 parade chairperson.  Mr. Gray explains that the movie trilogy of Back To The Future was the inspiration for the theme as the trilogy is celebrating 30 years in 2015. “Anyone that has watched the movie will remember also that the time clock in the time traveling car was set 30 years ahead and ironically to October 21 2015,” Mr. Gray stated. “We are excited to share this special date with such a great set of movies and an iconic set of characters from the 1980s.”

The Milford Community Parade was originally themed as a Halloween parade as it began 70 years ago under Ed Evans, who was Milford’s Mayor during World War II.  In recent history the Gray family has facilitated the event for the past 25 years. With the help of community members, family and friends, James Gray set out to make the parade a unique experience for those attending. Under the direction of Milford Community Parades, Inc., the parade began as a fall holiday celebration and has since evolved into a fall seasonal parade with changing themes. According to Charles Gray, current Parade Chairperson, attendance has reached 30,000 in previous years with the multiple marching bands as the parade’s signature attraction.

In any given year parade goers can listen to between 10 and 20 different bands throughout the evening, including university, high school and community bands.  Over the years, the parade has hosted local businesses and non-profit organizations, statewide political figures and even some unique entries including an airplane and an elephant. Businesses and individuals help sponsor the parade annually.  Any size sponsorship is considered and for those that would like to join the $100 campaign, the business or individual will receive a yard sign to proudly display on the lawn or in a window.

“We raise funds to support the logistics of the parade such as band transportation, portable restrooms, trophies and more.  With today’s budgets, if we did not support the schools with assistance for band transportation costs, we would not have the turn out we do annually.  Sponsors also help with special appearances like the Philadelphia String Band appearing this year.  The Woodland String Band will march in the parade because we have sponsors.  They charge a fee so they can raise money for their costumes and participate in the New Year’s Day Parade in Philadelphia,” Mr. Gray explained. Sponsors can reply to the electric bill insert for City of Milford customers or anyone can now go online and sponsor the parade with the $100 campaign with their credit card without additional charges other than what their bank may charge.  Mr. Gray commented, “Our goal every year is $20,000.  Some years have been close.  It is our hope that making it easier to sponsor will allow others to participate that may not have in the past.”

The parade committee meets monthly to discuss ideas and how to improve the logistics.  The parade committee also raises funds with additional fundraisers, such as parking cars at a local show, selling food and beverages at a local event, hosting a special all you can eat skating party and serving pretzels at a local large event.  The committee, comprised of individuals from both Kent and Sussex Counties, outside and inside Milford, are all volunteers and have been coordinating the parade raising funds and managing the parade for more than thirty years. “To think back and realize we would see this parade last this long is heart-warming.  It would not at all be possible without all those that have volunteered annually like the Sussex and Kent County Fire Police, the committee members throughout the years and the community leaders that have embraced the parade as a calling card for a great place to live, work and play,” remarked Mr. Gray.

Reviewing stands and food vendors are also along the 1.7 mile route.  Mr. Gray pointed out, “Unlike other parades, we offer three reviewing stands for the spectator’s convenience.  This allows the spectators to spread out and not all be jammed into a small space. This leads to better crowd control and logistics for families ready to leave at the end of the parade.  We are proud of the partnership we have had over the years with Milford Police Department, the Chief, and the local departments that assist the evening of the parade.”  Families are encouraged to visit for parade route information, detour information, sponsorship information and more.  The parade begins at 6:30pm on October 21 and arrives downtown by 6:45pm.

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