Needham officials said the parade this Sunday celebrating Aly Raisman's return home will feature a variety of attractions, including gymnastics performances, a marching band, free snacks, and speeches by elected officials and Aly herself.
The parade route will begin on Chapel Street at Needham Town Hall and march down Highland Avenue to Memorial Park, where there will be a rally.
Town officials are expecting about 3,000 people to attend.
While the town is planning an event that tops most other annual parades, Sandy Cincotta, a town support services manager, warned that the parade and rally is designed not to swarm the medal-winning Raisman with fans looking for photos and autographs, but will be more of a relaxed atmosphere where even the Olympic darling can let loose and have fun.
"We’re trying to make it all about a celebration for Aly, not a photo opportunity," she said. "We want her to enjoy herself."
The town will kick off the event this Sunday at noon with a 101.3 FM radio stand and music playing in Memorial Park, Cincotta said.
There will also be performances by gymnasts from Excel Gymnastics in Newton, the Liberty Belle Chorus, the Canton American Legion Community Band, the Belchertown Twirlers baton group, and the Needham High School dance team.
The town will also honor the other six Olympians and Paralympians from Needham, transporting athletes in a trolley during the parade.
There will also be a plethora of snacks and drinks: Poland Springs, who recently announced they would sponsor Raisman, will give out free water, while both Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts plan to provide beverages.
There will also be sweet treats from Needham's Hazel's Bakery, Braintree's Konditor Meister, Quincy's Montilio's Baking Company, and Roche Bros, just to name a few.
"It'll be fun, with something for everyone," Cincotta said. "There will be a lot of tables with food."
Local officials will also address the crowd, including state Senator Michael Rush, a Norfolk County Commissioner, and Norfolk County Sheriff Michael Bellotti.
Cincotta said the Raismans would also have a short speech, and Aly is expected to address the town as well.
Cincotta said that many parts of the parade are being sponsored by local businesses and banks, leaving the town with just a small bill to cover.
"There have been a lot of donations, and a lot of sponsorships," she said. "There has been a great outpouring of community support."
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org