Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County gains new visibility with a parade float

Submitted by Danielle Letourneau-Therrien, Executive Director

Folks in the Athol/Orange area know River Rat Day, and it’s a pretty big deal. 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the River Rat Race, which puts kayakers and canoes into the river in early April.

BBBSFC1 Big Sister Stella and Little Sister Deven decided to create a float as an activity they could do together. Stella took the lead and got us signed up for the River Rat Parade, which was free of charge to join. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin Co. (BBBSFC) staff and board put out the alert to get as many people as we could to come along that day. We had bubbles, candy to toss, and some informational pamphlets. People along the route shouted that they love us, and some folks shouted out for info pamphlets, since they didn’t realize our reach went that far east. It was great for visibility and potentially for recruitment.


The Franklin County Spring Parade is in Turners Falls, and is in its third year. They have a theme each year, and this year's was Hawaiian Luau. Since Stella and Deven made such beautiful flowers on the float, it fit in with the theme perfectly. We gathered candy, info pamphlets and bubbles, and this time we also got some Hawaiian leis from the dollar store for everyone to wear. We had a few more matches join us, additional supporters, staff, board and children of a board member. Once the parade was over, we were awarded “Great Use of Theme - Big Brother/Big Sisters” and received a blue ribbon.

For both events we announced it to all our community matches, staff, board and on Facebook. We all wore our BBBS t-shirts, and brought extra in case more people showed up.

Some things to consider:

  • When you sign up for a parade, you will need to let them know if you have a float or vehicles ahead of time. People just marching is OK, too
  • They usually have you line up an hour or more in advance, so be aware of that if you have little ones with you
  • Bring snacks and water
  • Wear comfortable shoes and bring layers, just like if you were walking a 5k
  • Tell everyone who supports your program that you will be there!
  • Bring information about your program, even if it doesn’t seem like a good thing to “toss.” People will ask!
  • Bring your banner or make a large sign
  • Ask board members to attend, too
  • Wear matching t-shirts or sweatshirts
  • Remember the sunscreen

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, contact Danielle Letourneau-Therrien at