AYER -- The timing was perfect this year for Ayer's Fourth of July parade, held on a sunny Saturday just one day after tropical storm Arthur brought non-stop rain on the holiday.

Blaring sirens from Ayer's Fire Department led the parade from West Main Street to Pirone Park, where the festivities continued with games, a bike decorating contest, food and fireworks.

Families lined up along Main Street to watch the annual parade, featuring former selectmen's secretary Janet Lewis and former assistant tax collector Roberta Chase as the grand marshals.

The parade also included the Ayer Shirley Robotics Team, the Fort Devens Museum, Pampered Pets Day Spa and the Shirley Fire Department. Dressed as clowns, the Hills Mills Clown Band entertained onlookers with music and unicyclists rode in circles in front of the Ayer Youth Baseball and Softball group.

Tents with games, food and more crowded Pirone Park after the parade as people waited for the evening fireworks.

The parade is a family tradition for Jim and Bev Shack, who sat out in chairs on Main Street watching the parade with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Next door, Mary Alemu Walker, owner of Mary's Beauty Salon on Main Street, watched the parade from the stoop of her store.

"Every year I'm here," she said. "I don't have to come, they come to me."

The parade is always good, she said.

"It's nice to see people I've never seen before," she said.


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Geoffrey Rantilla made a 45-minute drive from New Hampshire for the parade with his wife, Kate.

He said he found out from colleagues that Ayer was one of the places that would have a parade today. He used to run a program for homeless veterans at Devens and buy his clothes from the P.N. Laggis men's clothing store on Main Street.

"So we did a double," he said. "I bought these pants and a couple of shirts, Kate took a lot of pictures of the parade, and now we're going back to Wilton, New Hampshire, to catch an independent movie."