While Congress and President Obama wrangle over cuts in spending, there is a real threat that the government will shut down. Here in Concord, this may mean Minute Man National Historical Park will lock its doors.
That is bad news for the town, which holds major holiday events around Patriots' Day. Concord counts on tourism to bring in money as busloads of people usher in the Spring tourist season.
Stephanie Stillman, Executive Director, Concord Chamber of Commerce estimates that up to $250,000 in lost retail revenues could result should the Patriots' Day Parade be cancelled. "That doesn't include revenue from restaurants and hotels that would be really affected," she said.
On Wednesday, Stillman stopped the presses, where 10,000 copies of the Patriots' Week activity calendar were about to be printed. "We distribute these to historic sites, hotels, and restaurants. People really look for them, and we can't print them if things will be cancelled." According to Stillman, 90 percent of the events on the calendar take place on Park property.
Stillman had been in touch with Nancy Nelson, MMNHP Superintendant who was awaiting clarification from National Park headquarters.
But if the government shuts down, what then for Concord's Patriots' Day traditions?
The first event to feel the impact would the Meriam's Corner Exercises, slated for this Saturday, April 9 at 1 p.m. The entire event takes place on Park property, at Meriam's Corner at Route 2A and Old Bedford Road. The national park runs along Route 2A from Lexington through Lincoln and into Concord.
The observance of the Meriam's Corner skirmish features the Concord Independent Battery along with the Concord Minute Men. In the absence of Park safety personnel, the groups may not be allowed to fire cannon and muskets as is traditionally done.
April 18th's grand parade may be impacted as well. While cancellation is feared, it is more likely that a route change and cannon/fire arm discharge restrictions would take effect.
The Town of Concord owns the Park parking lot on Monument Steret, the allee leading to the Old North Bridge, the bridge itself, and the Minute Man statue area. As in high water years, units that usually march through the Park from Liberty Street could be rerouted over Flint's Bridge on Monument Street instead.
The Concord selectmen said at their Monday meeting that the parade route would have to be altered to avoid the park, but they hoped the shutdown would not materialize.