The Haverhill Fire Department played a special role in bringing that special bunny to see the children of the city on Easter Sunday while adhering to the social-distancing mandate. “Firefighter Ryan Fairbanks came to me and asked for permission to plan and coordinate an Easter Bunny Parade using a reserve fire truck with firefighters volunteering their time,” explained Fire Chief William Laliberty.
“Firefighters Richard Wentworth Jr., Timothy Nutter and Gregory Ryan were the other firefighters who volunteered their time.”
Asked why the fire department became the escort for the Easter Bunny, Chief Laliberty said, “The why is to bring smiles to the faces of children and their families in the Haverhill community at a dreary time filled with anxiety and dreadful thoughts of a virus that has crippled many. It also brought joy to the firefighters, knowing their efforts were an emotionally positive gesture.”
However, after spending the day before Easter at Chris’ Farm Stand, digging around for carrots, the E. Bunny needed a new set of clothes to wear for the parade. Firefighter Brian Sanders called Ozzy’s Kids’ Kristina Hardy to help with that mission. Hardy posted on Facebook and called all over town to find just the right size.
“We searched around high and low, and finally found the right outfit from Manager Madison at Pizzeria Uno,” said Hardy. “Then we asked the fire departThe ment if we could join in the fun, and we were allowed to tag along. So, we decorated our cars and brought Pikachu, a Minion and Mickey Mouse. Firefighter Fairchild asked if we had any special requests for the parade route, and we suggested parts of town where a lot of our Ozzy Kids live. And we were able to hit almost every part of Haverhill.”
On Easter Sunday at 11 a.m., the small caravan left the Water Street station with sirens blaring for what they initially believed would be a two-hour tour. Families followed the parade progress on a real-time mapping app so they’d know when to be out by the street. Crisscrossing a city as large as Haverhill and traveling at a slow speed so that the Easter Bunny could wave to every child took more than four hours. And everyone felt it was time well spent.
“The citizens were raving about it,” said Laliberty. “They were telling and showing video clips on Facebook on how happy the children were and how excited the parents were to see the smiles on everyone’s face.”
The chief hinted about future parades. “We need the public to understand that in order for this joyous event to continue they need to maintain social distancing [at least 6 feet from one another], not to gather in large groups, and to wear facemasks within the small groups so as to do their part in flattening the curve during this pandemic. If we can have the public’s cooperation, we can restart these public parades.”
Alison Colby-Campbell writes The Heartbeat of Haverhill because there’s just too much good stuff going on in Haverhill to keep to herself. In her ideal world, animals would be able to talk and people would be kind and compassionate always, and every day would be a good day to meet someone new to profile in a Haverhill Life article.