Springfield, Massachusetts—Today, Wednesday, October 15, 2014, Fred Christensen, Vice President for CBRE – Northeast and General Manager for Tower Square, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Judith Matt, Spirit of Springfield President, and Peter Lappin were joined by Colonel James Keefe, Wing Commander for the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base who bestowed the honor of the 2014 Tower Square Parade of the Big Balloons Parade Marshall upon Colonel Thomas Cleland who commands more than 450 students as the Air Force Junior ROTC instructor at Springfield Central High School.
When the Tower Square Parade of the Big Balloons steps-off on Friday, November 28 at 11AM, Colonel Cleland will lead the procession down Main Street from Lyman Street to Locust Street. They will be joined by a Springfield’s own Cat in the Hat and several of his inflatable friends such as Smokey the Bear who is celebrating his 70th anniversary, Tweety Bird, Jim Hensen’s Spike, Santa, Peppermint Train and American Flag. The balloons will need more than 200 balloon wranglers and 25,500 cubic feet of helium.
“As this year’s Marshal, I will march in honor of several segments of the Springfield community. First, I will represent the fine staff and students of Springfield Central High School where I have taught for 22 years. Next, as a 26-year US Air Force veteran, I will proudly march in honor of all active, Reserve, National Guard, and retired military members…especially my Cold War and Vietnam-era brothers and sisters,” said Colonel Cleland. “Finally, two generations of our family will travel to Springfield to march with my wife and I to celebrate the wholesome family value of the Tower Square Parade of Big Balloons.”
Joining the celebration will an array of musical, motorized and marching contingents. Santa will make his arrival in style high atop Springfield Fire Departments Ladder #1 before he takes his chair in Tower Square for their annual holiday open house.
The Parade of the Big Balloons is sponsored by Tower Square with additional support from Smith & Wesson, Chicopee Savings Bank, PeoplesBank, CBS3 Springfield, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, ABC40/FOX6, the Massachusetts National Guard, Springfield Business Improvement District, Springfield Marriott, and the Springfield Fire Department, Springfield Police Department and Department of Public Works, as well as WSHM CBS3 Springfield who will provide commentary from the reviewing stand.
Following the parade, the festivities will move inside Tower Square for their Holiday Open House from 11AM to 2PM. Activities include performances by the Tanglewood Marionettes, Magic by Derke, Hilby the German Juggler, the Merry Stiltwalker, The Grinch and Dickens Carollers, as well as opening day for the Springfield Boys and Girls Club’s Festival of Trees.
For more information about the Tower Square Parade of the Big Balloons or to volunteer to be a balloon handler, contact the Spirit of Springfield at 413-733-3800 or visit spiritofspringfield.org.