Each year, Mary Hathaway treks down to East Street hours before the annual Flag Day Parade is due to come by. She sets up her chairs and gets her spot ready for one of her favorite holidays.
But now she has a new hope for the 45th Flag Day Parade - to ride in the lead car as the ceremonial Mayor of Dedham.
"You meet so many people," Hathaway said. "Mostly families get together for the Flag Day Parade."
Hathaway, 84, raised 10 kids in Riverdale all the while donating effort and time to groups all over town. From knitting for less fortunate kids to helping at any Riverdale Elementary School event she could get to, Hathaway, an Irish immigrant, has served Dedham since her and her late husband, Al, moved to town in 1960.
"I just can't stop," Hathaway said with a laugh. She often drove young kids from place to place in Dedham, and now transports her peers to the pharmacy, church and the doctors.
Mayor of Dedham is a fundraiser to benefit the Dedham Parks and Recreation Department and a charity of the winner's choosing.
Hathaway's "campaign staff" has organized a fund-raising event on May 31 at Moseley's on the Charles. If Hathaway out-raises her opponent, Tracey White, and wins the mayor's race, she has pledged her half of the total to The Second Step in Needham, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.
The Mayor of Dedham race means so much to Hathaway that she altered flight plans to her native Ireland from Flag Day to June 15.
Unlike a true campaign for a power-wielding office, Hathaway and White and involved in a friendly campaign, with both women planning to attend the other's fund-raising events.
Candidates need to turn in their "votes" by June 11 to Dedham Parks and Recreation.
Supporters can "vote" by giving $1 per vote to the candidate of their choice.
Hathaway disembarked Queen Mary in 1947 and onto Ellis Island. She quickly headed north to Jamaica Plain, expected to find "the streets paved with gold."
Instead, she found a husband and started her family - living with four kids in a third-floor apartment before buying a Commonwealth Avenue home.
The ever-strong woman now has 22 grandchildren and "3 1/2" great-grandchildren (her fourth is due later this year).
"In my family, we shared," Hathaway said. "You give, and you don't expect anything back."
Many of her family - now spread throughout the country - are planning trips back for the parade.
Hathaway admittedly doesn't use a computer, and first found Dedham Patch when reading the humbling words dozens of people said about her in April when they nominated her for Mayor of Dedham.
Once she saw the first nomination, she constantly checked on how she was doing.
"I was really shocked. I didn't think I deserved it," she said.