By Stephanie Reitz

July 5, 1997

Copyright The Hartford Courant 1997

Vladimir Lenin was a no-show at Friday's annual Boombox Parade in Willimantic, but at least Gen. George S. Patton was there.

Patton, a 12-week-old pointer puppy named for the American military leader, strained against her leash with excitement as crowds gathered along Main Street to watch the Independence Day parade.

Patton's "mom," Linda Balogh of Storrs, was drawn to the parade by the bizarre news that a 1- ton statue of Lenin would lead the festivities, wearing a dunce's hat and draped in stars and stripes.

"I think it's going to be hysterical. This is all so bizarre," Balogh said of the parade, whose participants pride themselves on dressing in their most unusual and eccentric costumes -- a celebration of the freedoms that Independence Day symbolizes.

Throughout Connecticut on Friday, celebrants enjoyed America's birthday at picnics, on golf courses, at food festivals and even in the skies high over the Nutmeg State.

In Willimantic, hundreds of boombox-toting marchers walked, drove, skipped and frolicked the half-mile route down Main Street. But the promised Lenin statue, property of a local metals shop, was notably absent.

Despite organizers' plans to drape the statue in American patriotism, callers to radio station WILI-AM 1400 -- which organized the parade -- said reminders of Communism are out of place in a Fourth of July parade.

"Let's just say he was a victim of oppression," grand marshal Wayne Norman said after the parade.

But despite Lenin's absence, those who came hoping to spot oddities were not disappointed.

Of course, parade regulars were there: gaggles of politicians, youth sports teams, church groups and classic cars.

But only in Willimantic does the parade include dogs in hats, a coquettish ewe, covered wagons, grocery carts decked in streamers and marchers dressed as frogs, fish and sea monsters.

Most of the marchers and spectators carried their boomboxes, all tuned to WILI radio's parade tunes.

Henry Bertora and his wife, Rachel, celebrated their 40th anniversary Friday at the parade.

"It's a fun parade because the marchers are always having such a good time," he said. "It's not one of those solemn events. It's a lot of laughs."

Copyright - 2019 - All rights Reserved
Constructed by - Quasars -