Space-savers in the summer? It’s a thing in this Massachusetts town

And the tradition is a bit more good-natured than the one in Boston.

Chairs lines the streets in Wakefield.
Chairs line a street in Wakefield. –Courtesy of Patrick Sullivan

Boston is infamous for the enduring — and sometimes cutthroat — practice of using “space-savers” in some neighborhoods to mark one’s parking spot following a snowstorm.

However, the city isn’t the only place in Massachusetts where space-savers have become a longstanding tradition. In the town of Wakefield, the practice is a little bit warmer, in more than one sense.

“We’re always betting to see when the first chairs will go out,” says Patrick Sullivan. “Once the first ones go out, hundreds more quickly follow.”

Wakefield is pretty proud of their historic Fourth of July parade and good spots along the 1.5-mile-long route come at a premium, so residents have increasingly begun reserving their space early. Sullivan, the chair of the Wakefield Independence Day Committee, says the first chairs — all manner of beach chair, lawn chairs, and folding chairs — begin appearing around July 1, if not late June. Sullivan says he’s even seen couches used.

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These summertime space-savers literally line the suburb’s streets.

Even downtown.

Posted by Wakefield 4th Of July Parade on Monday, July 2, 2018

According to Sullivan, Wakefield’s space-saving tradition has been going on since the early 1990s and has grown more popular each year. WGBH producer Karen Marshall noticed them more than 48 hours before this year’s parade, increasingly populating the town’s curbsides and sidewalks.

“There is no sacred ground when it comes to the chairs,” Marshall tweeted.

With some restrictions, the chairs go unmoved no matter where they’re placed.

“It’s become an unwritten rule in town that once the chairs are out, they stay put and untouched until the parade,” Sullivan said.

Though local police did remind residents Tuesday not to block crosswalks or handicap curb cuts, Sullivan says the chairs, despite their abundance, generally don’t cause any “major problems.” He said people are “generally very respectful.”

“This certainly is a much friendlier space saving than that in Boston,” Sullivan said.

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