Parade Memories - The McLoud Family
By Kristen Arute, May 14, 2020
Becka (McLoud) Bielawa at Hingham's 4th of July parade with sister Ann (McLoud) Cox and their children. Photo courtesy of Becka Bielawa
When Russ and Rita McLoud moved to 37 Central Street during the summer of 1965, they were delighted to learn that there would be a 4th of July parade just a few hundred feet from their home. “The only parade we ever saw regularly was the Boston St Paddy's Day parade,” said Russ. “We attended that morning and waited on Main Street across from the reviewing stand. We stood on that very spot for the next 44 years.” Several years later, the McLoud family was asked to participate in the parade on a float for their church. “I think it was in 1976,” said Russ. “We were honored and had an amazing experience.”
The McLouds celebrated four major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the 4th of July. But the 4th “was something else,” according to Russ. Every year after the parade, he and Rita would host a cookout that “grew and grew” over time. “Of course the cookout had hot dogs and burgers, but - did I mention that Rita was Italian? - we would have 4-5 pounds of pasta too,” he said. “It was always a wonderful experience, a wonderful time with our friends and our family.”
Russ’ daughter Becka (McLoud) Bielawa couldn’t agree more. “Having grown up in downtown Hingham, the Fourth of July parade has always held sweet memories for me,” she said. “I remember waking up to the sounds of the vendors filling their balloons in the lot next door and the announcement of the winners of the road race.” By the time Becka would make it downstairs, her parents were already busy preparing food for their backyard celebration. Russ would hang the giant American flag from the porch, and Becka, dressed in her red, white and blue best, would gather the chairs and head down to claim the family’s “spot” for the parade on the corner of South and Main.
“The best part of parade day was the interaction with fellow residents and friends,” Becka reminisced. “As a kid, seeing my friends from school and church and even a teacher now and then was so exciting.” When she was in college, the 4th of July was like a mini reunion with friends as they walked up and down Main Street watching the parade. Becka has had the joy of being able to pass along this tradition in her own family, showing her husband, a Chicago native, the joys of small town life and making new memories with their children and the children of friends.
Her sister, Ann McLoud Cox, also loves being able to share the parade experience with her children and now looks forward to sharing it with her grandchildren too. “There are many things about my childhood for which I am thankful. The Fourth of July in Hingham is right up there on that list,” she said. “Even though I don’t live in Hingham anymore, I still try to make the parade and fireworks as often as I can. It is something my family and I look forward to.”
The memories of living downtown with a front row seat to all of the pre-parade activities, listening to the sounds of vendors preparing their carts then walking over to watch the kazoo band and marching bands, will forever stay with the McLoud family. The parade was always the highlight, but it was also great catching up with family and friends. “So, while there will not be a parade or backyard gathering this year,” said Becka, “I hope we are still able to reach out to those we may not see every day and continue making new memories with those we love.”