Fourth of July Parade Undaunted By Rain
 By Dean R. Jacobowitz, Chronicle Staff Writer
 July 6, 1992

   WINDHAM--Mother Nature smiled down on Willimantic's Boom Box Parade Saturday, virtually stopping the rain so the 7th annual event could be held without short-circuiting any portable radios.

   The pink WILI Volkswagen Beetle wasn't so lucky though.  The radio station's flagship car stalled in front of Fleet Bank and couldn't get going again.  Luckily for the driver, a few parade spectators rushed from the crown to help push it up Main Street.

   The heroic rescue prompted a larger round of applause than most other parade units received throughout the 40-minute event.

   But at least the rest of the units, which ranged from a horse-drawn carriage to a 15-foot long plastic-covered fish to a procession of rottweiler puppies, were able to make it up the sloped roadway under their own power.

   The Connecticut Color Guard led off the Jillson Square-to-Memorial Park parade, followed by Grand Marshal Wayne Norman, of WILI, on horseback.

   The Willimantic radio station, one of the main sponsors of the wacky event, played 33 marching songs over the airwaves to provide musical accompaniment.  A number of marchers carried the music with them by bringing their own boom boxes.

   The parade featured the traditional as well as the unusual.  U. S. Rep. Sam Gejdenson, D-2nd, hoping for re-election in November, marched down Main Street, handing out candy and tossing, like Frisbees, his familiar potholders into the crowd.

   The frog motif also played a big role in the parade, highlighting Windham's history, it's 300th birthday and the nation's 216th.

   One float had been built to resemble a frog pond.  Moments later, the Chronicle's words-can't-describe-it float went by, a human sized frog walked by, turning many spectators' heads.

   Another float made bubbly throughout the crowd--literally--as people with bubble wands filled the air with soap bubbles of all shapes and sizes.  Because it had recently rained, many bubbles clung to the street for several minutes afterward.

   By the time the parade had come to an end, hundreds of children up and down the street had collected handfuls of edibles from the various candy-tossing marchers.  Call it early trick-or-treat.

  Two sisters from Mansfield, Colleen Boucher and Belinda Barrows, said they had never seen the Boom Box Parade before but enjoyed it very much.

   "They shouldn't give so much candy to the kids, though," Barrows said.  "Now they'll be all hyper."

   "It was really good," said Boucher, who originally had doubts about attending.  She thought, "A Willimantic parade? How long could it be?"

   Forty minutes long, folks.  And fun.

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