by Dan McClelland
Fortunately the 2017 running of the Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days parade escaped the rain this past Saturday. The rain held offfor 40-minute event until it poured from about 1p.m. to 2p.m., sending many visitors home or in search of cover.
The parade this year was again under the direction of Amanda “Bird” Lizotte, with help from Amy Mitchell.
Like last year, the route was again from the town hall to the municipal park along Demars Blvd.
Organizers were hoping there wouldn't be a repeat of last year's parade on the Boulevard when parade participants were doused for the duration and so were very pleased with this year's weather.
This year's theme was “Dancing Your Ax Off,” so many of the participants were stepping lively in their presentations before the judges.
Leading the procession again this year was the Tupper Lake Honor Guard, led by its able commander, Michael Larabie. The Honor Guard, created in 1945, is a familiar sight at veterans' observances here and the funerals of local, deceased veterans.
Following close behind the Honor Guard volunteers were the superb performers in the Norwood Fire Department's brass band, a long-time participant in the Woodsmen's Days parade going back to the 1980s. The band's history dates back to the 1870s- making it one of the oldest volunteer brass marching bands still in existence in America today.
A float and marchers from the Edmund Bujold Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3120 reminded parade watchers of the importance of honoring veterans, both past and present.
Rolling along too this year was a patrol car from the Tupper Lake Police Department, driven by former Chief Tom Fee, and vehicle and marcher from the Franklin County Sheriff's Department. The Malone-based agency did an identification program for children for several hours that afternoon at the park gazebo, free of charge.
Under its new chief, Royce Cole, the members of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department, sporting their dress whites and blues, stepped lively in the parade. Many of the department's very loyal membership (about 50) marched behind their chief. The department responds to emergencies of all kinds here, in addition to fires and averages about 200 calls a year.
The firemen were also selling chances at their booth this year for a new all terrain vehicle which was shown off in the procession.
Next in the line-up was this year's grand marshall, Jean Soucy and his wife, Karen, who was Woodswoman of the Year this year and who together presided over the event all weekend long, after being honored at the opening banquet in the park Friday night, hosted by the Tupper Lake American Legion post.
Next in the parade were the vehicles of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Ambulance and Emergency Squad and its dive team. With 20 active members the emergency squad is led by Chief Wayne LaPierre and Jon Miller, as assistant chief. Wayne is also captain of the volunteer squad's dive team and Stuart Burnette is the co-captain.
Accompany the squad and the dive team, riding on brightly decorated rigs was a new group this year, the Winged Eagles, a newly formed 4-H group of about 10 local children between six and ten years of age who do arts and crafts at their meeting,s as well as learn about important civic topics. The group is led by Nicole Partinio and Lauri Dukette, who grinned and waved along with their charges.
The kids sang loudly as they passed the judges' stand in front of the municipal park. It won them a first place in the youth category among the floats.
With his horn blasting loudly, along came Tupper Lake's well known truck driver Mike Hutchins commanding a sparkling Peterbilt owned by Champlain Peterbilt.
The next entrant was a familiar vehicle in recent parades here- Bill and Donna Lewis' white 1975 Buick LeSabre convertible- all polished and pretty- and representing the Tupper Lake Lions Club. Riding with Bill this year was his daughter, Sue Lewis, and granddaughter McKenna Lewis. McKenna's brother, Brady, was busy getting things ready in the Lions cookshack, so couldn't ride with the family. Also on board were the children of Cory and Lilian Rohrbach of Amado's Restaurant, Kristoff and Kaleigh.
The well-known wheels of Tupper Lake's very successful Mac's Safe Ride program was also all polished for the parade and driven by its founder Vivian Smith.
Judges gave the entry a third in the “originality” float category.
Representing Paul Mitchell Logging was a 2015 Peterbilt driven by Marcus Wilson and pulling a log loader and trailer owned by C.J. Logging. The entry won third place in the “best looking truck” category.
Another prize winner in the “oldest piece of equipment” class was Gerry Fletcher's 1964 B-53 Mack roll-off. For most of its life it wascement truck in Ontario and it later became a utility truck and then a roll-off rig. Driving it Saturday were the Fletcher brothers, Josh and Elliot.
More music came flowing down the parade route- this time from the Elgin and District Pipe Band of Huntingdon, Quebec- another band parade watchers here are familiar with since the group performs here year after year. Dressed in traditional Scottish garb, the pipers and drummers delighted the judges with a special number in front of the stand. The group is led by Pipe Major Wanda Goundrey and boasts members from both Canada and the U.S.
-And then the judges, who this year included Tim Larkin, Tracy Sparks, Rob Madore, Russell Villeneuve, Supervisor Patricia Littlefield and Nicole Fuller, heard this loud buzzing.
It came from the Wild Center's busy bees- staff, volunteers and friends- who performed a very inventive “Waggle Dance” for the judges, with their wings all jiggling. Even the Wild Center Otter was sporting bee wings. The yellow and black knee socks were a perfect touch.
Their performance was all about a special project at the Wild Center called “The Adirondack Pollinator Project”- a call to everyone to help pollinators of all kinds (bees, butterflies birds, bats and other small mammals) thrive. Apparently the “Waggle Dance” is a real dance that bees do to communicate inside their hives.
The bees, instead of candy, distributed seed packets and honey sticks, a nice twist this year.
The Wild Center bees won second place in the humor category.
Lizotte Logging Inc. of Tupper Lake then produced two nice entries- all cleaned and shined for the procession: a 2006 Peterbilt hauling the load of spruce logs, driven by Jay Rice, and a 2009 Kenworth with a load of hemlock pulp, stewarded by Scott Lizotte. With their dad were the Lizotte kids, Jeannelle and Maddox.
The 2006 Peterbilt driven by Jay was deemed by the judges to be second best in the best load of round wood category. It also won the prize for oldest working truck in the parade.
The next big piece to roll in front of the judges was a Volvo loader from Tupper Lake Hardwoods, driven by mill worker Andrew LaMere.
Behind Andrew was a big yellow skidder owned by C.J. Logging- whose owners have been big supporters of the the hometown event for years.
The new skidder won “best piece of equipment” in the parade.
A float carrying staff members and friends from the Adirondack Arc, which is dedicated to providing opportunities to those with developmental disabilities, roared up to the judges' stand in full musical flavor. They were using their parade participation to promote their big event in August- Rock the Arc, which is a great day of good music, food, games and a chance to win $10,000. It's the not for profit's big fundraiser of the year, which is important in the face of severe state funding cutbacks of late.
The agency's float won a first place in the “originality” division.
The Shriners from Malone were back in style this year with a float and their clown and a couple of volunteers on the unusual bikes. They've been a part of the Woodsmen's Days parade for decades. The colorful float depicted the Shrine hospitals inMontreal and Boston.
All the fraternal group's work goes to support 19 orthopedic and three burn hospitals on this continent where many unfortunate children from the North Country have been helped at no cost to them or their families.
The antics of the Shriners won them first place in the “humor” class.
The Village of Tupper Lake's water and sewer department was very well represented in the parade with Joe Cormier driving a big dump truck, Nate Durfee and his son, Nolan, aboard the department's impressive Vac-On truck which sucks nasty things out of sewer mains and other hard to get places, Max Willett and his son, Cooper, aboard the department's backhoe and a pick-up truck driven by Supervisor Mark Robillard, accompanied by his children, Luke and Lyla.
Remington Trucking of Parishville, owned by Pat Remington, won the prize for most log trucks entered in the parade.
First was a 2013 Kenworth pulling a load of lumber from Tupper Lake Hardwood, a 2009 Western Star driven by Brent Bedard, a 2013 Kenworth with a load of logs cut and stacked on the trailer by Lizotte Logging (third prize for best load of round wood) and a 2009 Kenworth driven by Josh Perry.
The Remington Trucking company's yellow tractor won first for “best looking truck” and its gray-colored Peterbilt won second place in that division.
Next in the line-up was the village electric department's newest bucket truck- a hybrid that is state of the art- driven by Lineman Chris Zaiden.
As Chris passed the judges' standthe association acknowledged their thanks to the department and its crew members who worked all week to provide power and set utility poles for the big logging event.
Father Douglas Decker and youth group leader Dennis Jones carried a banner announcing their group, the St. Alphonsus Holy Name Youth Group which is made up of junior high and high school students here. The fun the kids often have when they meet was very evident in their cheers and lively behavior that morning. Aboard the float was Pope Francis displaying God's everlasting mercy. The group won second places in the humor and youth categories for their creative float-building work.
Taylor Rental, with locations in Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh, entered the parade with a number of pieces of equipment they rent- everything from floor sanders and chainsaws to excavators and skid steers and lifts. Many of those pieces were on display all weekend at the firm's booth on the park grounds.
Not to be outdone by the sewer and water crew, the village's DPW workers put three pieces into the parade line-up: a front end loader driven by Brian Kennedy and dump trucks driven by Matt Merrihew and Charlie Bencze.
Following those vehicles was a 2013 Kenworth trailer pulling a load of Tupper Lake Hardwood logs entered by French Trucking of Fine, N.Y. Driving the big rig was Homer Dubey, accompanied by his children Emma and Taran. French Trucking won the first prize for best looking load of round wood.
Following the French truck was another Volvo loader from Tupper Lake Hardwoods, driven by Carter Haye.
Justice John Ellis was at the wheel of one of new trucks at hisUncle Rick'sEllis Automotive- a 2017 Chevrolet 2500 Duramax Diesel High Country Edition. Riding with their dad were Olivia and Scout Ellis.
All decked out in the beach gear was this year's contingent of life guard at Little Wolf Beach. Driving the lifeguard's float was Waterfront Director Chris Savage, who was joined by Logan Savage and Jade Dukett, this year's head life guards in the town program. The beach is open daily from 10a.m. to 8p.m.
That float won a second for originality and third in the youth division.
Bringing up the rear of the parade was a very clean truck and work trailer owned by Rick Martin's construction and remodeling business, all decked out in lettering and designs by Tupper Lake's Stacked Graphics.
by Dan McClelland