Portsmouth 400 Grand Parade — All Systems Go, Rain or Shine
🔴 The weather will be cloudy, cool, and windy for the parade
🔴 The parade will be live-streamed
🔴 Nearly 75 floats, bands, and participants will step off at 11 a.m.
Portsmouth 400 executive director Valerie Rochon revealed more the "really cool things" expected during the Portsmouth Grand Parade, which steps off Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
The summer heat will be gone by Saturday and replaced by more spring-like temperatures in the 50s, a gusty northeast wind, cloudy skies, and the chance of a shower. The parade plus the 97.5 WOKQ Chowder Festival inside Prescott Park, the Piscataqua RiverFest at Strawbery Banke Museum, and the Portsmouth Fire Department's first of three open house events at the fire house on Court Street all go on, rain or shine.
The parade will also be live-streamed on the Portsmouth400 website.
Rochon said that the parade will be led not only by the Portsmouth City Council and members of the Portsmouth 400 committee, but also veterans who gave up their Memorial Day parade.
"The vets were supposed to have a parade on Memorial Day and we worked with them and (city council member and veteran) Josh Denton. They cancelled their parade so that they could march at the front of our parade because there were too many parades," Rochon said.
Sailors from the Royal Navy survey vessel HMS Scott from England will be part of the parade, along with British Consulate General Dr. Peter Abbott who will march with the city council members.
Veterans from the HMS Minerva who marched in Portsmouth's 350th anniversary parade in 1973 are flying to the U.S. from Australia and the United Kingdom to be part of the 400th anniversary parade.
Rochon said the Portsmouth 400 float is titled "History blooms here" after the celebration's tagline, and was designed by a set designer who has worked in New York City and Boston. But it also has a serious message.
"We've also been concerned with the hate that has happened in Portsmouth. There was a big effort after graffiti happened in downtown and right after that we did something called 'love blooms here,' Rochon said.
Commitee Treasurer Denise Wheeler thought it was important to show that Portsmouth continues to be a welcoming community and tried to tie to the city's past.
"Our history says that we welcome everyone," Rochon said.
Many of Portsmouth's 14 different neighborhoods will also be represented by floats put together by residents.
"Some of them are going to be historical and knock your socks off. Just the time and the talent they've put into what they're doing," Rochon said.
Rochon is already looking at the next major Portsmouth 400 event, the Little Italy Carnival. It's an all-day celebration on August 6 to honor the city's "lost but not forgotten" neighborhood featuring live music, the Boston Guild performers, and a cooking competition with local chefs. The festival culminates with a community supper.
A masquerade ball fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, July 29, at Jimmy's Jazz and Blues Club on Congress Street in Portsmouth. Tickets for the ball are available at the Portsmouth400 website.