Parade Chairwoman Gina Mason (Jim Baumer photo)

To an outsider, the annual Moxie Festival parade, held on the second Saturday of July, appears to be orchestrated by a large group of paid professionals. Considered one of the largest summer parades in Maine, if not the largest, the logistics of this 90-minute-plus tour de force is handled primarily by one person, Gina Mason.

I interviewed Gina a week ago to find out what it’s like being the Moxie parade chairwoman and what secrets are behind the parade, which draws upwards of 25,000 people to Lisbon Falls on parade Saturday.

You’ve been involved with the Moxie Festival for a number of years. What are some of the other roles you’ve held prior to assuming the responsibilities in coordinating this year’s parade? I joined the Moxie Festival Committee six years ago, the first year mostly as a helper. After taking a year off, I took over as parade chairman four years ago. As members of the committee, we do a little bit of everything. We try to help each other out. If someone has a need and we can fill it, we try to do that.

What do you attribute the growth of the Moxie Festival to? I think that the Moxie Festival has grown because people nationwide are coming back home and they’re realizing they need to be closer to their roots. They’re also realizing that they need to have that hometown culture or feeling in the lives of their children. You and I know — Lisbon is home for us.

My kids went off to school in Florida. A lot of the friends they brought back home wanted to see and know about Moxie. It was a quirky kind of thing for the kids from the South, Midwest and West.

The towns where they are from don’t have a quirky event like Moxie, and it was cool for them — that we’re all so into Moxie.

The parade is the centerpiece of the festival. It’s the event that draws people to Lisbon Falls. How does the chairperson plan and coordinate the logistics of a parade that lasts nearly two hours? Our parade is an hour-and-a-half to an hour-and-45-minutes long. The Moxie parade has been deemed by ourselves and others as “the longest parade in the state.” There’s a lot of planning that goes into it, of course. This year has been a political year, so it will be quite a bit longer than that.

We have about 85 to 100 units yearly, and, as I said, with it being an election year, it can grow at least 20 more than that.

We of course use electronic media now. I’m still old school — I like to send out mailers. I send out an initial mailer early in the year — usually around February. It goes out in a bright orange envelope. Then we send a final one out a week-and-a-half to two weeks before, in a bright orange envelope, with all the logistic information in it. We try to keep in contact through email, and, of course, I have to make a few phone calls here and there.

I’ve had some helpers who’ve helped me over the years.

The day of is always the biggest deal. Volunteers are always hard to get. People don’t want to be behind the scenes — they prefer to watch the parade.

I’m usually at the Capitol Area circle at 6 a.m. — if I can get there earlier, all the better. I’m always the last one to leave the circle.

The Moxie parade begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 12. The best place to watch the parade is somewhere along Route 196, between the Midtown Shopping Center and downtown Lisbon Falls.

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