HomeEventsA Truly Horrible Parade Returns, and Ignites Controversy

A Truly Horrible Parade Returns, and Ignites Controversy

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At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting during public forum, longtime resident Ken Weismantel informed the board that Hopkinton’s Horrible’s parade is slated to make a return this July 4. 

“It will be a traditional 12:00 start and it will be horrible, of course, and everyone is welcome,” said Weismantel. 

The Horribles parade is a Hopkinton institution, derived from the Ancient and Horribles Parade, and brought to Hopkinton by James McIntyre in the 1930’s. The parade had been held continuously until 2019, when COVID and downtown construction combined to suspend the operation. Past parades have seen musicians, police cars, fire trucks, silly costumes and elaborate floats, often poking fun at local hot-button political issues. There are no fees to join and anyone that wants to participate just shows up. 

The parade is marked by traditional patriotic floats, satirical displays, and more recently, water guns. It is widely considered a time of coming together for the residents of Hopkinton, centered around our common love of country and the belief that we shouldn’t always take ourselves so seriously. 

But not everyone received Mr. Weismantel’s Tuesday announcement enthusiastically. 

Heard they want to bring the ‘Horribles Parade’ back to town.  🤦‍♀️. Cant [sic] our town just have a 4th of July parade instead?,” wrote Beth Gallagher Malloy in the private Facebook group The Real Housewives of Hopkinton. Ms. Malloy’s question set off a storm of comments, both for and against the idea.

The horribles [sic] parade has been a tradition since I was a kid back in the 60s. It was a lot of fun and it would be nice to get some old traditions back,” wrote Sandra Varnum.

Can you imagine how Horrible it would be particularly this year if the aim is to bash local politico’s,” replied RHOH moderator Patricia Duarte. “100% and considering the state our town is in right now it’s a bad idea,” replied Ms. Malloy.

Any parade would be nice!!,” added Jean White. “No not any parade, one that celebrates community not mocks it,” replied RHOH moderator Darlene Hayes.

Ms. Hayes later called out Laura Hanson, who serves on the Parks & Recreation Commission, which had unanimously approved the parade permit. “[You] should have dissented. You have lived here a long time to know the teasing “satire” of this event,” wrote Hayes.

I still think it may give people a chance to laugh and lighten up. Ease the tension a bit. Most people can appreciate a good joke, even at their own expense,” concluded Keri Paradis.

Ironically, an oral history of the Horribles parade was recorded on June 30, 2017, when Ms. Duarte, Connie Wright, and Ms. Hayes hosted then 70-year old Joanne Phipps on their HCAM show Hopkinton Coffee Break. Ms. Phipps shared the origins of the Horribles parade in Hopkinton, supplemented by Ms. Hayes, who shared the wider history of the Horribles tradition in New England.

Joanne Phipps joined the Hopkinton Coffee Break in 2017

Mr. Weismantel promised to share more information on the parade in the coming weeks. 

Update 5/24/2024: Reader Colleen Roy pointed out that the parade was originally started by James McIntyre, the father of Charles McIntyre. The story has been updated.

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  1. The Horribles Parade is a very long standing tradition in our town on Independence Day. The Hopkinton RTC volunteered to jump start this tradition about a year ago when we did not have any celebration festivities of our countries founding on the 4th of July.

    We are committed to making this years celebration focused on Independence Day and provide all residents the opportunity to “tastefully” have a little fun with local politics. We are hopeful that folks will keep the spirit of the event from years gone by.

    We also want to reinstate the focus on a positive event for children of all ages. So we will be limiting the “water” fun to be appropriate to all in attendance.

    Stand by for more information.

    Jim Mirabile
    Hopkinton RTC

  2. The dress up Doll carriages and Bicycles was always done when we had a kids days on the common and it was not done at the horribles parade. We had a special day for kids day.

  3. Have the parade, lighten up, have a laugh once in a while. Everyone can use a little levity. The angry woke crowd that is constantly in political mode is just so tedious….do these people have any fun? Drop your political guard once in a while. Don’t always seem angry…….its not good for you or the town.

  4. I believe Seinfeld said it best at Duke:

    “The slightly uncomfortable feeling of awkward humor is okay,” Seinfeld advised. “It is worth the sacrifice of an occasional discomfort to have some laughs. Don’t lose that. Even if it’s at the cost of occasional hard feelings, it’s okay.”

    “My point is we’re embarrassed about things we should be proud of and proud of things that we should be embarrassed about.”

  5. Just know that in 2024, people have much looser ideas of what is tasteful. My kids grew up with the parade and enjoyed the candy, the horses, and even the squirt guns. I remember a few times when the satire got too personal. I love a parade and wish this was more about celebrating the US’s birthday and building community in a positive way.

  6. It IGNITED no controversy. See on most platforms you can state your opinion and have a conversation about it. That’s what happened on RHOH. There was no controversy, no name calling , no ugly innuendos. Just a conversation . Nice click bait though huh?

  7. The RHoH mods are abuzz with unnecessary uproar over a damn parade that has historically been all about satirizing and mocking political figures, and town politics. Lighten up. If they feel so triggered by this, perhaps they should quit enabling DH and come to terms with the fact that their house of cards has come tumbling down. But they are on the defensive while playing victim instead.

  8. Darlene, if you’re going to live by the sword, you are going to die by the sword!!

    If the town has a different Memorial Day parade, who’s going to pay for that? The town needs to STOP spending on things we CAN”T afford~

  9. The “Antique & Horribles Parade” has a long history in the state. The phrase comes from a snarky take on at the “Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts,” and it dates back to as early as 1851 in Lowell. Every town that has one has a slightly different twist but it has always carried a political bite. Last year in a salute to our tradition I asked people to submit photos from past parades to the Hopkinton Historical Society page on Facebook and lots of people responded. The photos are still there if you’d like to take a look.
    Here’s a good explainer for the tradition:

  10. Here goes HOPnews stirring up trouble again in order to increase readership, profit and to ingratiate the editor’s massive ego. I’m assuming you didn’t need permission from those behind those public comments, but the general decorum of this website from the start has mirrored our nation’s devolving discourse. HOPnews’ aggressive lack of manners and general civility found in the articles, treatment of public figures and especially the public comment section is obvious and quite tacky. One would think this is for the betterment of the community, but deep within this marketing choice must lay the true character of the editor and owner.

  11. Why can’t we just get along and have a big party in the center of town and love what we are blessed to have?

  12. MTWAIN How high is your horse you need to get off of? I can lend you a ladder if you need.

    I don’t have numbers but willing to bet you that the Editor is not getting rich by your standards. You may not like seeing the dirt under the covers, preferring a washed version of the world. Truth can be ugly and messy. I applaud Peter and his team for unapologetically reporting what they see. ME THINKS THOU DOST PROTEST TOO MUCH.

  13. The horrible parader should replace
    The (Macys? ) thanksgiving parade . We need to hold take time and laugh at what needs to be laughed at .. And for all those that don’t care for sarcastic whit and want just smile pretend that it’s all apple pie and fireworks, I guess
    Just stay home , because we are not living in a state run community.

    Happy Independence Day everyone we are all in this together…

  14. Do you have any idea how creepy it is to see that hopnews goes on a private facebook page and cuts and pastes an entry into a public town newspaper? SO creepy.


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