The last time the Charlestown Militia marched up and down Bunker Hill Street for the annual parade was on a rainy Sunday, June 16, in 2019.
It seems almost impossible that two years would have come and gone without the key community event in the Town – the Battle of Bunker Hill Day Parade, but in fact that is the case. Even so, it doesn’t mean that many in the Town are willing to let the moment go without doing something, and this year All Roads Lead to Charlestown has organized an extensive agenda for Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13, to make sure no one forgets and the community can celebrate in some fashion.
Sean Boyle, Erica Walsh and Aileen Gorman, all of the non-profit All Roads Charlestown, put their collective heads together about a month ago when they realized that, in light of the Parade and Pride Week cancellations, if something didn’t happen, people might start to forget the sacred traditions.
“After two years, things can get forgotten,” said Boyle. “It’s important to make sure these traditions are kept alive the best way we can. This Parade has been going on since the 1800s. It’s painting the Town red, white and blue. We want and have to keep that going.”
Said Walsh, “We want to show our kids and family members and the Town that the Townie spirit is still alive and well.”
Added Gorman, “The Townie spirit survived the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to make sure that message gets out there.”
Boyle said the momentum from the May 1 May Day business event earlier this spring really propelled All Roads Charlestown to expand that energy to the Bunker Hill Parade. Last year, Boyle and several community members staged an impromptu Car Parade simply to keep everyone’s spirits up. This year, they are putting together an expansive and permitted June 12 Block Party on the Training Field, a Fitness Boot Camp Extravaganza to support the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club on June 12, and a Restaurant/Pub Crawl on June 12. On June 13, they plan to have a Car and Walking Parade throughout the traditional Parade route.
“All of this was planned and permitted within a month; we pulled it off very quickly,” said Boyle. “What I like is that every single corner of the Town is included. The Charlestown Mothers Association, the YMCA, the Kennedy Center and so many others. It’s not our event, but everyone’s. It’s about unifying everyone and bringing everyone together.”
Said Walsh, “Our overall mission here is to bring everyone together and have a good time. We all love this community.”
Bunker Hill or Bust Block Party
The key event will take place on Saturday, June 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Training Field. The event will have a street market with local vendors, live entertainment, kid-friendly events, and free sweet treats.
One of the key parts of the event, according to Walsh, is including small businesses in the vendor fair.
“On May Day there were a lot of events going on and a lot of Charlestown businesses weren’t included and we wanted to make a big push for small business in our plan and in our market for everyone – especially for Townie businesses and businesses owned by people of color,” she said.
Boyle said the vendor fair is meant to mimic the Chamber of Commerce’s annual fair that’s held at the Bunker Hill Mall in most years. With it gone for two years now, they thought this event could help fill the gap.
Many local businesses and non-profits will be set up, and it is meant to continue the momentum from the vendor fair during May Day.
Gorman said the entertainment will include DJ Smokey Cain, a Trackless Train around the Training Field for kids, Rockabilly Beats, Disney characters, a Balloon artist, Tattoos by Sioux, and a table sponsored by local veterans for writing letters to soldiers. Other entertainment will include the Goulding School of Irish Step Dance, the Charlestown Militia and John Kelly & Ted O’Brien.
“There’s just a lot of cool things going on,” said Gorman.
Bunker Hill Boot Camp
The Boot Camp will feature a conglomeration of fitness organizations running fitness classes all over Charlestown on June 12 and 13. The impetus behind it is to donate most of the proceeds to the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club. Usually, on Parade Day, the Club hosts the Bunker Hill Fun Run, but that has been cancelled now for two years – leaving a hole in what was a major funding source for the Club.
To try to make up for missing the race this year, the fitness organizations plan to donate some proceeds to the Club. Those participating include:
•Weigh Betta U
•Bar Down SC (12 & Under only)
Bunker Hill Bar and Restaurant Crawl
On Saturday, June 12, several restaurants are participating in the Crawl, the first one ever. The five restaurants that are involved from 5-10 p.m. include:
•Blackmoor Bar + Kitchen
•Tavern at the End of the World
“It’s not a traditional pub crawl,” said Boyle. “It’s our first year doing it so it’s a test. The bars and restaurants will have a special menu item or a special drink and participants can dress up in red, white and blue. It’s a way to get people out and support the businesses. The night before the Parade was always a fun night historically, and we want that to be the case with this too.”
Boyle said Casey Durham and Nicole Collier have been instrumental in putting that together this year.
Bunker Hill Car and Walking Parade
While everyone had hoped for a Parade this year, and especially when restrictions lifted on May 29, it was just too tight a deadline for a traditional, massive Bunker Hill Parade – plus the fact that most bands and militia groups aren’t yet re-formed.
So it is, Boyle said they will stage their second Car Parade this year, with cars that want to participate asked to report to Montego Bay (Boat Ramp on Terminal Street) by 11:45 a.m. to decorate. Anyone who needs decoration will find ample help at the site to deck out their wheels in red, white and blue, Boyle and Walsh said.
Those who wish to walk are asked to meet at Hays Square around noon or 12:15, where Gorman will be there to welcome walkers.
At 12:30, the Charlestown Militia is expected to kick off the Car and Walking Parade at Hays Square. The Parade will follow the traditional route, which is the following: Starting at Hayes Square; up Bunker Hill Street; down Bunker Hill Street; left onto Main Street; down Main Street; left onto Monument Avenue; Up Monument Avenue; left onto Monument Square; going around Monument Square; down onto Winthrop Street; and ending at the Training Field.
Paint the Town Red, White and Blue
As has been the tradition for some time that Boyle had championed more than a decade ago, there is strong encouragement for everyone in the Town – particularly businesses and those on the Parade route – to decorate their homes for the week in red, white and blue. It could be bunting, flags, or any other time of patriotic display.
Bunker Hill Boot Camp
•Weigh Betta U – 10 a.m. Shipyard Park
•Monument Fitness – 10:30 a.m. Bunker Hill Monument
•Bar Down SC (12 & Under only) – 10 a.m. Charlestown Peace Park
•Turnstyle Cycle – 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. Roof of Hood Park Garage.
•Asana Yoga – 9:30 a.m. Bunker Hill Monument
*To join, please book with fitness centers individually. Donations during workouts welcomed for the Boys & Girls Club of Charlestown.
Bunker Hill Block Party
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Training Field
11 a.m. – The fun starts with Rockabilly Beats, Disney characters and the Trackless Train. There will also be free treats and other kid-friendly activities.
More music and entertainment from John Kelly, Ted O’Brien, DJ Smokey Cain, Goulding School of Irish Step Dance, and the Charlestown Militia – among others.
An expansive street market with vendors will run throughout the event.
Bunker Hill Bar Crawl
5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Participating restaurants will have specials for the crawl, and participants are encouraged to dress patriotically. The five participating restaurants include Monument Restaurant, Tavern at the End of the World, Blackmoor Bar + Kitchen, Warren Tavern, and Sullivan’s Pub.
Bunker Hill Car and Walking Parade
Anyone participating with a car should report to Montego Bay (Boat Ramp on Terminal Street) by 11:45 a.m. to decorate their car. Help decorating and supplies will be available if needed. Those walking should report to Hays Square by noon.
The car and walking parade will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and travel the traditional route.