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Thetford Preserves Annual Tradition

  • Anne de Montluzin, of New Orleans, left, Mary Ellis Hasseltine, a part-time Thetford, Vt., resident, center, and Dee Pingleton, of Post Mills, Vt., chat while watching the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Anne de Montluzin, of New Orleans, left, Mary Ellis Hasseltine, a part-time Thetford, Vt., resident, center, and Dee Pingleton, of Post Mills, Vt., chat while watching the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mavis Downey, 6, of Thetford, Vt., right, checks to see if she missed any candy as Maya Dixon, 7, of Post Mills, Vt., waits for more floats to go by during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Mavis Downey, 6, of Thetford, Vt., right, checks to see if she missed any candy as Maya Dixon, 7, of Post Mills, Vt., waits for more floats to go by during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Adi Alsup, 7, of Thetford, Vt., stands with her mother Monica against her dad A.J.'s 1962 Volkswagen dune buggy before the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Adi Alsup, 7, of Thetford, Vt., stands with her mother Monica against her dad A.J.'s 1962 Volkswagen dune buggy before the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ethan Howe, 10, of Thetford, Vt., looks watches the spectators while riding in a General Lee belonging to Jeff Swift, of West Fairlee, Vt., during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Ethan Howe, 10, of Thetford, Vt., looks watches the spectators while riding in a General Lee belonging to Jeff Swift, of West Fairlee, Vt., during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Carlie Ulman, 18, of Thetford, Vt., left, Emily Poghio, 17, of West Fairlee, Vt., and Katelyn Ulman, 13, of Thetford, throw candy from the back of Carlie and Katelyn's grandfather's truck during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Carlie Ulman, 18, of Thetford, Vt., left, Emily Poghio, 17, of West Fairlee, Vt., and Katelyn Ulman, 13, of Thetford, throw candy from the back of Carlie and Katelyn's grandfather's truck during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Thomas Bugg, 7, of Thetford, Vt., checks his balloons before marching in the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Thomas Bugg, 7, of Thetford, Vt., checks his balloons before marching in the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anne de Montluzin, of New Orleans, left, Mary Ellis Hasseltine, a part-time Thetford, Vt., resident, center, and Dee Pingleton, of Post Mills, Vt., chat while watching the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)
  • Mavis Downey, 6, of Thetford, Vt., right, checks to see if she missed any candy as Maya Dixon, 7, of Post Mills, Vt., waits for more floats to go by during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)
  • Adi Alsup, 7, of Thetford, Vt., stands with her mother Monica against her dad A.J.'s 1962 Volkswagen dune buggy before the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)
  • Ethan Howe, 10, of Thetford, Vt., looks watches the spectators while riding in a General Lee belonging to Jeff Swift, of West Fairlee, Vt., during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)
  • Carlie Ulman, 18, of Thetford, Vt., left, Emily Poghio, 17, of West Fairlee, Vt., and Katelyn Ulman, 13, of Thetford, throw candy from the back of Carlie and Katelyn's grandfather's truck during the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)
  • Thomas Bugg, 7, of Thetford, Vt., checks his balloons before marching in the annual Thetford Labor Day parade in Post Mills, Vt., on September 1, 2014. The parade was followed by a barbecue lunch fundraiser for Project Graduation. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

Post Mills — Caleb and Aidan Salisbury awaited the start of Monday morning’s Labor Day parade in Post Mills on the stone steps of Peabody Library with their mother Toni Safford, of East Thetford.

To pass the time until parade participants would toss them candy, they counted passing cars. Caleb chose silver, Aidan, black and Safford, red.

The color red seemed a fitting choice for Safford, an EMT firefighter with the Windsor Fire Department. Safford said she does not often get to watch a parade because “I’m usually in it.”

As the parade participants — including campaigning politicians, the Thetford Academy cross country team, a team of oxen, a giant pig balloon, the Westshire ATV Club, a school bus and fire trucks — traveled down routes 113 and 244 from Kinne’s Field to the Post Mills Airport on Robinson Hill Road, the crowd cheered.

The boys dove for candy. Aidan smiled when an Almond Joy hit him in the head.

“Everybody’s out,” Safford said. “This is a nice parade.”

The three were among scores who flocked to the Thetford village on their day off to watch and participate in the parade. Festivities continued into the afternoon with a flea market, barbecue and museum visits at the Post Mills Airport. The annual event has been taking place since 1960, but was organized by Thetford Academy Project Graduation volunteers for the first time this year.

Jill Koppers and her daughter, Gretta, 10, of Post Mills, brought their Nigerian dwarf goats — Millie and Nigel — to walk in the parade.

Along with the goats, the Koppers also brought a little red wagon filled with hay and candy and decorated with paper flying pigs — in line with the parade’s theme, ‘When pigs fly’ — as well as flying sheep and goats.

Before the marching began, Nigel had already taken a bite out of one of the paper signs.

Koppers said the family had not participated in the parade before, but felt motivated to make the effort this year because “it almost didn’t happen.”

The event was nearly canceled earlier this summer when the town’s fire department announced it would not host it.

“I was like ‘What? We can’t let that fall apart,’ ” said Brian Boland, one of the event’s organizers and the Post Mills Airport’s owner. “Communities need these kinds of things.”Last September, volunteers came together to host “Pork in the Park,” a fundraiser for Thetford Academy’s Project Graduation.

This year, when they learned of the fire department’s cancellation, Project Graduation volunteers decided to take on the Labor Day event, moving their pulled pork to the airport and creating the “when pigs fly” theme.

“I don’t think there’s another event that brings (the) community out like this — other than the dump on Saturday,” said volunteer and Town Clerk Tracy Borst as she dished out pasta salad during the barbecue held at the airport, instead of at the Little League field next to the fire station where it was previously held.

Volunteer Mike Pomeroy, a selectman and a parent of a Thetford Academy senior, said he and other cooks, including Brian Kasten and Dave Ulman, had been cooking since 3 p.m. the day before.

They were hoping to serve 450 people pork, beef and chicken during the course of the day, Pomeroy said. In addition to the meat and pasta salad, coleslaw, baked beans and cookies rounded out the meal.

Though he and most others in the crowd were sweating in the late summer heat, Pomeroy expressed relief that it was not raining. He said he had “worried all week long” about the weather.

Attendees perused items for sale including jewelry, clothing, toys and other flea market knickknacks, as BJ’s DJ Service, of Thetford, played country music.

Boland’s museum on the airport site, which showcases a variety of balloon, airship and special interest vehicles including a London bus, cloud cars and motorized picnic tables, was open for the day and people filtered in and out.

“What we’re seeing today is what should be happening every day — community members standing together,” said Boland.

Boland said he hopes to further expand the utility of his property for himself and for the community in the near future by installing a 150,000 kilowatt solar farm — which would serve 30 households — in the field across Robinson Hill Road from the airport where Monday’s barbecue and flea market took place.

Joel and Wendy MacNeil, of Thetford, whose son, Andy, 6, collected a bag of candy during the parade, said they have been attending the Labor Day event every year for the 15 years they’ve been living in town. The changes in hosts and location didn’t alter their participation.

“It marks the end of summer,” said Joel MacNeil.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.