Barrington Town Council OKs FTM, but shuts down parade

Resident questions why town can hold one event, but not the other

By Josh Bickford
Posted 4/12/21

Members of the Barrington Town Council recently set the date for this year’s Financial Town Meeting, but scrapped plans to hold the annual Memorial Day Parade.

During the April 5 meeting, …

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Barrington Town Council OKs FTM, but shuts down parade

Resident questions why town can hold one event, but not the other


Members of the Barrington Town Council recently set the date for this year’s Financial Town Meeting, but scrapped plans to hold the annual Memorial Day Parade.

During the April 5 meeting, members of the council voted unanimously to cancel this year’s parade. Council president Michael Carroll opened the discussion by saying he felt it was just too soon during the pandemic to hold the parade, which is typically well-attended by Barrington residents. He later referenced a book he read about the 1918 pandemic and how numbers spiked following a celebratory war-time parade.

Councilors Carl Kustell, Jacob Brier and Rob Humm all agreed with Mr. Carroll, each saying that while they enjoyed the parade in the past they felt it was too soon for the town to hold the event.

However, councilors appear content with holding an in-person Financial Town Meeting this year.

During the same April 5 meeting, councilors voted 5-0 to hold the FTM on June 16, with a rain date of June 23. The town’s charter requires that the tax rate be set at the annual Financial Town Meeting. (The council plans to later discuss specific details about whether to hold the FTM inside the high school or outside on Victory Field, similar to last year’s meeting.)

The council’s decision to hold one public event while canceling another did not sit well with longtime Barrington resident Tom “TR” Rimoshytus. He told members of the council that people in Barrington can follow the necessary rules and guidelines set forth by the department of health to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“I believe people will take precautions,” Mr. Rimoshytus said.

Earlier in the discussion, Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha said the town had already booked bands for the summer concert series; those events are held at outdoor venues such as Barrington Town Beach and Latham Park.

Mr. Rimoshytus said the vaccination rates continue to increase, adding that he does not think residents should be hiding under rocks all the time. He said the town should be doing things to bring people back together.

Mr. Carroll made a motion to cancel the Memorial Day Parade, but also authorized the town manager to plan an appropriate ceremony to recognize the Memorial Day holiday. He said that might mean a Zoom event. Mr. Brier also said he agreed with an earlier idea offered by Mr. Carroll to hold a special town-wide event — possibly a cook-out — to bring people back together, face-to-face, when it is safe to do so.

Eventually the council voted 5-0 to cancel the parade.

Veterans involvement

For years, members of the Barrington United Veterans Council have played a key role in planning the Memorial Day Parade in Barrington.

And before the town council pulled the plug on this year’s event, UVC members were already moving away from organizing the 2021 parade. The local veterans have been locked in a months-long battle with the town council regarding flags flown on the town hall flagpole above the Veterans Memorial outside Barrington Town Hall.

The UVC has asked town officials to refrain from flying political banners on the flagpole; the council has supported flying the Pride flag and the Black Lives Matter flag on the town hall flag pole.

Later, the veterans group requested permission to relocate the memorial to a new space away from the flagpole. Both requests have been denied by town officials.

Paul Dulchinos, a Barrington resident and president of the Barrington UVC, said his group has been very disappointed with the way it has been treated this year.

“It’s a very emotional issue,” Mr. Dulchinos said. “To not meet us half-way. To not compromise. Sometimes groups can come together … you have at least half the community in support (of the veterans)…”

Mr. Dulchinos said the Barrington Town Council’s decision to cancel this year’s Memorial Day Parade offered them an easy excuse from “having to deal with the 600-pound gorilla in the room.” He said the town council wanted to avoid a difficult conversation with the UVC, adding that “they have pretty much burned the bridge” with veterans.

Mr. Dulchinos said that turnout for regular Barrington UVC meetings has doubled since the beginning of the dispute with members of the town council.

“The council was very disappointed in the way we were treated this year,” Mr. Dulchinos said, adding that the group will hold a Memorial Day ceremony at Victory Gate at Barrington High School.

Mr. Dulchinos said Barrington always gets a good turnout for the annual Memorial Day Parade, which proceeds from Barrington High School down Upland Way and Barrington Avenue to Maple Avenue and then finishes in front of the town hall.

“It’s a great event. I was very impressed with the community support and the quality of the event and participation,” he said. “But this town is different. I don’t recognize it from the town I moved into 15 years ago.”

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