Phil Dow, his wife Mary, Mary’s sister Alberta Willey, family friend Stacy Elliott and Eli Bernard watch and wave as Howdy Goodwin drives by in his boom truck. ISLANDER PHOTO BY VICTORIA DECOSTER

Community honors resident with personal parade

Members of the Dow family wave at Ken Ogden and Belinda Lawson as they pass by in their golf cart while family friend Eli Bernard looks on.

TREMONT — A longtime member of the Tremont community is no longer able to get out and about, so the community came to him. 

Last Wednesday, the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department conducted a drive-by parade for Phil Dow and his family. The procession, starting at Tremont Consolidated School at 5 p.m., traveled three quarters of a mile and ended at the Bernard Bridge. 

Dow, who has become housebound, and his wife Mary, gathered with a few family friends outside their home to wave at the firetrucks, emergency vehicles, classic cars, motorcycles and a golf cart passing by. 

“He enjoys trucks and motorcycles and classic cars,” said Fire Chief Keith Higgins.  “The family wanted to see if we could do something like a parade just to drive by and see him.” 

As Chief Higgins approached the Dow home in his firetruck, he started off the show by blasting out a stream of water, delighting his audience and returning their waves with a series of honks. 

Peggy Sue and Mark Smith’s classic Ford F-100 drove behind several other vehicles, contrasting the yellow engines and catching Dow’s eye with its Grabber Blue paint job. Jeffery Porter followed UPS driver Lisa Hayes, vrooming by on his motorcycle. 

The cavalcade circled back through on its return, ending the display in a cloud of smoke when Alan Gordius revved his engine. 

Although the fire department organized the event, the idea for the parade came from Erin Kerns, a hospice manager for Northern Light Home Care & Hospice. After discussing the proposal with Amy Wescott, the Dow’s hospice social worker, Wescott set the plan into action by initiating contact with the Tremont town manager and fire department. 


“Phil (and his wife Mary) are unsung heroes in many respects. Phil is quietly graceful and humble about his life,” wrote Bre Gaffam, communications director at Northern Light, in an email to the Islander. “We wanted to honor him, and his wife Mary loved the idea.” 

Dow, a car enthusiast who turned 85 last August, has faced a decline in health for quite some time, according to Chief Higgins. Over the course of his life, he has been an active community member, dedicating his time to helping others. 

Most notably, Dow served in the Coast Guard for four years, including as a lighthouse keeper at Egg Rock, and took part in search and rescue operations, as well as operating a tugboat. He worked for 39 years at The Jackson Laboratory and was a member of the Freemasons, The Independent Order of Odd Fellows and The Knights of Pythias. 

The Dows were also active with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and looked after the needs of other family members and young people in the community. 

“​​Today shows how special our small community is,” wrote Janet Vince Patton, in a Facebook comment under a post by the Tremont Fire Department calling on willing participants to join the parade. Several members of the Tremont Fire department as well as several other people from town…joined in a parade to cheer up one of our own… And we got to enjoy it as it went by our house!! Thank you all for caring!!” 

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