HARVARD -- Bromfield's first-ever Homecoming apparently took the town by surprise and may have to take a back seat to other events scheduled for the same day that were on the calendar long before, including the annual Harvard Flea Market.
A big event with a long history in town, the annual Flea Market, formerly called the tail gate flea market, has traditionally had dibs on the Columbus Day weekend and can be counted on to draw a big crowd, tying up the center of town during its hours of operation.
Unless it pours that day, Mass Avenue will likely be lined with parked vehicles, from the General Store to the fields outside Bromfield, where the flea market is held. With tables and booths selling everything from antique furniture to rare books, jewelry, vintage clothing and food, browsers and bargain hunters tend to turn out in droves, also parking along Pond Road and filling up the school parking lots.
Weather permitting, this year should be no exception. Noting that Saturday, Oct. 6 will be a busy day in town, Police Chief Edward Denmark said those issues sparked traffic and safety concerns. At some point, apparently, there was talk of nixing the homecoming parade, but Denmark told the selectmen Monday night that the green light is on, for now.
Denmark outlined a plan for all events to co-exist peacefully, with extra police officers on duty. But he's reserving parade cancellation as a possible emergency out if traffic or parking-related congestion gets too bad.
The Homecoming fun run and parade, specifically, had to be addressed, since the flea market was already a given and could not be rescheduled or relocated.
The parade route Denmark sketched will be relatively short, from Pond Road to Bare Hill Pond behind the school, proceeding down Mass Avenue to Town Hall. Unlike the Fourth of July parade, however, there won't be a marching band, floats or anybody on foot.
"It can work...with some criteria," Denmark said, and he met with event organizers to work it out. Asked if he'd spoken to Flea Market organizers, too, he said no, not yet. Selectman Marie Sobalvarro suggested doing so, noting that the Pond Road part of the parade route could be iffy and that there will be flea market entrances to contend with, including the table she'll be tending, selling tickets.
The run should be no problem, since its route is well away from the center and won't clash with other activities that day, Denmark said. And the parade will be limited to a seven-vehicle "caravan," with a police escort. No walkers. No floats. And the green light that signals go will be tied to conditions on the ground.
"If I decide it's too congested, we call it off," Denmark concluded.
The selectmen voted unanimously to approve the homecoming events, subject to the police chief's criteria.