Mass. Town's Police, Firefighters Pulling Out of Parades to Focus on ‘Job Mission'

Wilmington's police chief said his officers need to focus on their jobs as the state starts to open up

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Parades of first responders have become a common way to celebrate the good things in life in the age of the coronavirus. 

But the police and fire departments in Wilmington have decided to stop taking part for a while, a decision some communities have started to make around Massachusetts. It was fun to do when it was slow, but things are returning to normal in Wilmington.

“It’s a great thing to do for the community. It’s just not really our focus of what our job mission is, especially in this case, to get out there and enforce traffic laws,” Wilmington police Chief Joseph Desmond said.

In some cases, police officers and firefighters have been attending two to three parades a day. In all, they’ve probably taken part in 50 parades, Desmond said.

Isabelle Manning, who just turned 17, was honored with a birthday parade outside her home last weekend, and it may have been one of the last in Wilmington with police and fire escorts for a while.

Many kids are missing out on birthday parties as the country continues to practice social distancing. But that hasn't stopped some families from finding ways to celebrate.

“It helped to brighten the mood a lot knowing that I could still see my friends and still get some kind of celebration for my birthday, even though I didn’t get most things that a 17-year-old would get while in school,” she said.

Her mother, Jennifer Manning, organized the parade for her daughter. She’s grateful to the police and fire departments for making the day special, calling it sad but understandable that it was time to stop participating.

“If you get the police and the fire trucks involved, then it’s literally adding the bells and whistles to a celebration,” Jennifer Manning said.

Desmond said there will still exceptions to the parade cancellations. But right now, his officers need to focus on their jobs as the state starts to open up.

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