Northfield readies for 350th parade, fireworks

  • Main Street in Northfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2023 5:52:57 PM
Modified: 9/21/2023 5:52:17 PM

NORTHFIELD — With nearly a whole year of celebrations behind it, the focal point of Northfield’s 350th anniversary festivities will roll down Main Street on Saturday, Sept. 30.

In line with the year-long theme of reconnecting Northfield, the 350th parade will bring community groups, elected officials and residents together for a celebration of what members of the town’s 350th Anniversary Committee call the “gateway to the Pioneer Valley.”

“The whole idea is to have the community strut their stuff,” said 350th Anniversary Committee member Steve Stoia. “All the large community institutions are involved in this.”

The approximately two-hour parade kicks off at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Pine and Main streets and will end at the intersection of Main and Maple streets. Among those marching and riding will be members of the Northfield Senior Center, farmers and their equipment, local business representatives, first responders from around the county, state Sen. Jo Comerford, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, the Pioneer Valley and Turners Falls high school bands, 4-H kids and a group of Shriners clowns.

Main Street will be closed to all traffic at 12:30 p.m. and 350th Anniversary Committee Chair Stacy Bond recommended people arrive early to ensure they can find a parking space. Parking will be available at Northfield Elementary School and the Community Bible Church. There will also be six sets of bleachers for spectators to watch in front of the elementary school, which is where parade announcer Nathan L’Etoile will be set up.

Leading the parade will be Grand Marshals Pat and Tom Shearer, two longtime residents who have given decades of service back to Northfield in both municipal and community roles. Tom Shearer spent multiple terms on the Northfield and Pioneer school committees, the Finance Committee, Planning Board and Board of Assessors, and was town moderator for seven years. Pat Shearer spent 44 years on the Pioneer School Committee — including 25 as the chair — and has mentored generations of children through the 4-H program.

The Shearers, of whom Pat can trace her ancestry back to one of the town’s original settlement members, were involved in Northfield’s 300th anniversary celebration and said it is an honor to be selected to lead this parade.

“It should be fun and I’m looking forward to it,” Pat Shearer said. “I’m praying for no rain.”

While the parade is the culmination of the town’s birthday celebration, the fun doesn’t stop there. A craft and vendor fair will take place across the street from Northfield Food Mart, 74 Main St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Then, following the parade, the festivities shift to The Brewery at Four Star Farms, 508 Pine Meadow Road, where there will be kids’ activities, food, music and drinks, along with a fireworks display at 8 p.m. Bond thanked Northeast Paving for donating the children’s activities, along with several employees who are volunteering to support the celebration.

Beyond the parade, there are at least a few more 350th events scheduled for the remaining months of 2023, including a geology tour of Northfield led by retired Greenfield Community College professor Richard Little, a performance of “A Christmas Carol” by Silverthorne Theater Co., a Piti Theatre Co. production and a gingerbread house-making workshop, among others.

Taking on a year-long celebration, Pat Shearer and members of the 350th Anniversary Committee said, means they were able to emphasize many different areas of interest for residents of all ages. The 300th anniversary, she recalled, consisted of a week and a half jam-packed with events.

“I think it brings the community together a little more,” Pat Shearer said of holding several events a month. “There’s lot of things that just couldn’t have happened and I really think, these days, the more you can do to make a community feel like a community, the better off we are.”

Northfield’s 350th year will close out the way it began, with luminaries lining Main Street at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. On the first day of the new year, residents lined their properties with luminaries to participate in Light Up Northfield, which Bond said was a great success.

For more information about the 350th anniversary celebrations, visit

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.


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