Charles Laberge named Grand Marshal of 2009 Peach Parade
WILBRAHAM Charles Laberge has been marching in the Peach Festival parade for more than 20 years. This year he'll march as the parade's Grand Marshal, but he'll continue to march in his Boy Scout uniform.
Laberge first joined the Boy Scouts of America in 1937, when he was 12 years old. His early years as a scout were spent in New Hampshire, where he grew up. In the early years of the Second World War, he served with the scouts and local firemen as a plane spotter in Hinsdale, N.H.
When he was 18, Laberge enlisted in the U. S. Army, and spent three years in Germany, including the engagement at the Battle of the Bulge. He earned the European Campaign Ribbon and a Good Conduct Medal during his military service, and he wonders to this day how he came through it.
In 1951 Laberge married Babbette Fagnan, and in 1952 they moved to Wilbraham, where he was employed by Westinghouse and worked in the East Springfield plant that produced household appliances. They raised their family in town. Their son Thomas now lives in Merrimack, N.H., but their daughter, Paula Chevrier, still lives in Wilbraham, right on Main Street.
Laberge has always been an active communicant at St. Cecilia's, volunteering as an altar server, a CCD teacher and a funeral server.
When his son Tom became a scout, Laberge resumed his association with the Boy Scouts, and he has been very active in the organization ever since. He was a leader of Troop 176, connected with the Lutheran Church. He served as District Commissioner for the Scanticook region from the early 1960s until 1992, seeing the consolidation of the Hampden Council into first the Pioneer Valley Council and then the Western Massachusetts Council. During this time, he was on the staff at five Boy Scout Jamborees at Camp A.P. Hill outside Fredericksburg, Va.
His many scouting awards include the St. George Award, the Silver Beaver, the Wood Badge, the 1981 District Award of Merit, the 1988 Distinguished Commissioner Award and the 1990 Presidents Award.
Laberge said, "I'm just one of those people who can't sit still." The community of Wilbraham is all the better for that, and the Wilbraham Community Association is proud to have him leading the 25th Peach Festival Parade as Grand Marshal.