Daffy Disappointment

Kate OBrien •

To the editor: After living on Nantucket for over 20 years, I am so grateful for the work that the Chamber puts into the Daffodil Festival. It has truly become my favorite event weekend and I look forward to it every year.

After the pause for the pandemic, I was so excited for my daughter to actually be able to take part in Daffodil Weekend when it returned last year. At six years old, she was finally old enough to really participate in the festival. After hearing about the Hat Parade, she became set on entering. She came up with a plan to have a giant daffodil on her head. After a little figuring, I worked with her to create a paper mâché daffodil hat. After applying layers of paper and glue, she painted and decorated her enormous hat. She was so proud to wear it downtown and take part in the parade. The judges were fabulous with all of the children who entered, truly inspecting each hat, and asking questions about how each child created their entry. When the winners were announced, my daughter was thrilled to receive a first-place ribbon. She hung it on her wall and almost immediately started talking about her hat for next year.

If I had known that there would not be a Children’s Hat Parade this year, I would have tried to stifle her excitement. This years’ experience at Children’s Beach was completely the opposite of last year. After spending so much time twisting pipe cleaners into daffodils and attaching them to the hat, my daughter could not wait to get downtown on Daffy day. We arrived early and she, and other children, waited patiently for the parade signups to begin. My daughter was one of the first people up to the white board, so eager to compete. When the woman taking signups asked her what her group was called, her energy changed immediately. She sheepishly replied that it was just her entering. It was obvious to me that she felt like she was in the wrong place. As groups of adults began to sign up at the same time, many spectators were wondering why the children weren’t being separated. “Don’t the kids usually do their own parade?”

As the parade started, most of the children just hurried across the bandstand, unsure of what exactly they were supposed to do. The judges simply sat on the benches as the kids rushed by. They didn’t ask the children any questions about their creations. They did not take a close look at any of their hats. As the large groups joined the parade, the children seemed to disappear into the mass of adults. When it was time for the judges to announce the winners, some onlookers wondered whether or not they would have separate ribbons for the children. They did not.

Not a single child received any kind of recognition. While they had painstakingly created hats out of pipe cleaners, construction paper, googly eyes, and other classic craft items, the only people to place were groups of adults. Adults who had probably spent hundreds of dollars on their look. How do children’s crafts stand any chance when compared to designer outfits?

As Daffodil Weekend is a family event, it was so sad to see all of the disappointed children walking away from the bandstand. I truly hope that this year’s lack of a Children’s Hat Parade was simply overlooked in all of the work you do for this festival. I urge you not to let this happen again. Please support the children of Nantucket, and our youngest visitors, by bringing back the Children’s Hat Parade for the 48th Daffodil Festival.

Thank you for your consideration,

Kate O’Brien

(this letter was originally sent to the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce)

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