June 1, 2020

Lyme’s July 4th Parade — with a High-Tech Twist — Marks Anniversaries of Lyme Ambulance, Camp Claire

Grand Marshal Braiden Sunshine smiles at his admiring followers.

Grand Marshal Braiden Sunshine smiles at his admiring followers. All photos by Lauren Dickey.

The small, personal, home-spun parade that marches proudly over Hamburg Cove each Independence Day has a strong following of adults, kids, and dogs. There are regulars who wouldn’t miss it, making it a part of their annual celebration before moving on to other plans … or not.


Campers from Camp Claire on top of the hill — many wearing T-shirts announcing the camp’s Centennial, which was celebrated June 11 — make up a good portion of the parade, and some of their families discover it for the first time through them. New residents hear about it, come for the first time and become hooked. Boyfriends and girlfriends come along for the ride and are then regulars.

DroneBut this year there was a bit of a twist. The first three cannon blasts were heard at 10:10 a.m., and movement was sighted at the top of the hill. But … what’s that?

A drone?!

Yes, it rose above the trees – which may have been about all it photographed – followed the road, preceding the marchers, and approached the bridge. Then it seemed to disappear as suddenly as it appeared. But it did make some in the crowd wonder—is there anywhere now that we can’t be watched?


As tradition dictates, the parade was led by two soldiers this year, one in Union Army blues, the other in a buckskin-style shirt, tri-corner hat … and shorts? They fired their black-powder rifles at regular intervals to lend excitement to the next car bearing the parade’s Grand Marshal. Who would it be this year? Why, none other than the local high-school student, popular and charming Braiden Sunshine, semi-finalist in NBC’s “The Voice.”  Sunshine waved eagerly to the crowds and seemed to show as much wide-eyed excitement as he did for larger, much more visible venues.


Lyme Park & Recreation came next, followed by a well-crafted sailing ship seemingly afloat on a float; one sailor carried a sign, “In Memory of Doc Irving.” The late, much loved, local resident and pediatrician died last Sept. 15 at age 91; he was a speaker for many years at this parade, dressed in a vintage Naval uniform and throwing teabags into the cove, because, after all, the more famous tea party did not happen in Boston. People in the crowd still miss that speech; perhaps some year soon a new generation will pick up the torch. 


Other marchers included members of the Lyme Garden Club, the Lyme Veteran Memorial Committee, Lyme Fire Department, Lyme Cub Scouts Pack #32, vintage cars, unidentified floats full of kids, and the ever-popular oompah band.


An effective entry was a Model T-style car driven by Uncle Sam and carrying a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty, holding her torch high. The military half track always driven by Bruce Noyes was there with wife Tammy, but sadly, his father, Jack Senior, was not waving at the crowd this year—we all wish him well.


Marching proudly near the end of the parade were Lyme Ambulance members, marking their 40th anniversary! The members were followed by one of their ribbon-bedecked ambulances.


After free popsicles at the Hamburg Cove Yacht Club (another great part of this tradition), which we finished by 10:30 a.m., many went to the Lyme Public Hall at the top of the street to enjoy a free, interesting display about the ambulance’s history; many letters gave testimony to the warm nature of this service—the hand-holding and follow-up visits provided. A nice testimony to a cadre of people who participate in training and are on call to volunteer their time 24/7 outside of their “regular” jobs to help their community members.


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