WAYNE NORMAN IN THE WILI BOOM BOX PARADE

WILI'S morning man since 1971, Wayne Norman is the Grand Marshal of the annual WILI July 4th Boom Box Parade.  In 1991 he started a tradition of wacky outfits and modes of travel to start the parade.  Here are some of his costumes:

    
In the inaugural Boom Box Parade in 1986, Grand Marshal Wayne Norman wore white shorts, red shirt, and blue suspenders. Wayne is riding shotgun in this Mustang convertible, driven by WILI jock Robin Lee Jennings, with WILI jock Ken Carson in the back seat. 
 
 In the second parade in 1987, Wayne drove that snazzy Mustang convertible.  Mid-day man Ken Carson rode shotgun.  That's a camera crew from WFSB-Channel 3 in Hartford in the back seat.




The first two parades marched from Memorial Park to Jillson Square.  1988 was the first year the parade went westbound, as Jillson had a larger formation area--necessary for the higher number of participants.  And 1988 was the first year Wayne wore Windham High School's white drum major hat.  His baton was a mic stand with a classic RCA 77-A ribbon mic.  Plus red shirt and blue suspenders. 
 
The 1992 Boom Box Parade was the only one affected by wet weather.  The parade began 45 minutes late to allow a soaking rainstorm to pass.  Wayne Norman had planned to ride a horse, but the horse had other ideas.  Wayne walked the first three blocks (L), then got on the horse the rest of the way.
 
Frogman Wano in 1993 -- Randy Flaum photo
 
In 1993, Wayne (center) dressed as one of the Frogs of Windham.  He is flanked by John Tuite (L), Gordon Smith, Lynn Moebus, and Mike Morrissette.
 
In 1997 Wayne led the parade on a motorcycle, complete with his boom box shoes.
 
1998 was Wayne's all-time favorite.  He rollerbladed on Main Street, towing the world's largest boom box, which looked strangely similar to a bus.  Notice the radio dial on the side.  Oh, and that's George Washington throwing candy from the top of the "boom box."
 
In honor of the UConn Men's Basketball team winning the 1999 NCAA title, Wayne was dressed in center Jake Voskuhl's actual game jersey.  Wayne is wearing "boom box shoes," is shooting a nerf basketball at a hoop on afternoon man Shawn Higgins' back, while towing a sled carrying the UConn Husky mascot.  Wayne has been the radio voice of UConn Men's Basketball since 1981.

1999--man pulls dog

Wayne was "Romantic Willimantic's" first "Cupid" in 1982.  In the 2000 Boom Box Parade, he led the "Cupid Corps" of many subsequent Cupids.  Seen behind Wayne are Cupids Shawn Maynard (L), Linda Riquier (with dog), "parade mama" Kathy Clark (with sign), and Bev York (R).  Wayne is wearing a diaper and is carrying a bow and arrow. 
 
In 2001, Wayne kicked off the parade dressed as Uncle Sam on a scooter.
 
In 2003, Wayne asked a question on many people's minds after 60 Minutes II portrayed Willimantic in a negative light.
 
In 2004, Wayne enjoyed leading the parade so much in his "adult tricycle" and white jump suit that he pedaled back to the formation area.

In 2005, Wayne saluted the 2004 World Champion Red Sox while "paddling" in a kayak supplied by the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership.  The paddle had a hand-painted "Stars and Stripes" design with script lettering "God Bless America."  And on the other side of the oar was a World Series Championship Red Sox pennant.  Wayne wore his authentic Red Sox jersey given to him for his 1000th UConn broadcast, and had red socks and RED HAIR!  Along the route, he passed out t-shirts and cold water to spectators.

 

Complete with sword (right), scepter (left), crown, and TWO boom boxes, Wayne sits on his throne above the giant WILI boom box to start the 2006 parade as "The King of Willimantic" -- Richard Sallee photo



Wayne had a 1950's theme to lead the 2007 parade, in connection with WILI's 50th anniversary which is October 5, 2007.  He had  slicked back, gelled, black hair, a black t-shirt with rolled up sleeves showing a tattoo, cuffed dungarees, white socks and black high-topped sneakers.  For the holiday, he wore his red, white, and blue sequined vest, with a white sash holding 50's vintage 45 rpm records including "Willimantic, USA" by the Yankee Nutmeggers, and "That's Amore" by Dean Martin (for "Romantic Willimantic).  More 45's were on his back.  Meg Nelson held the sign explaining Wayne's look.
 
Grand Marshal Wayne Norman with Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell
 
In 2008, Wayne had a "geezer" look, riding in a motorized wheel chair, with dyed grey hair, granny glasses, a blue cane, blue slippers, and--of course a red Boom Box blasting the parade sound track.  A sign on the back said "Wayne's next air chair."


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Wayne (rear), Cameron (L), Cole (R) and Wayne's sister Kimberly in front

The 2009 parade featured the first parade appearance by Grand Marshal Wayne Norman's 6-year old niece Cameron and 4 year old nephew Cole from San Diego.   Being Californians (Wayne was born in Hollywood), they had a surfer look, with all three on surfboards.  Wayne had blonde--surfer-type--hair, and of course, carried a boom box tuned to WILI's parade music.


Fran Funk photo
 In 2010 Wayne donned a blue and white graduation cap and gown.  Red high topped sneakers with white socks completed the patriotic look.  A sign said "Wayne Norman for UConn President."    When Governor Rell saw this she grinned and said, "I don't think so."   The Rells marched with Wayne at the front of the parade.


Kristin Benini photo

The Grand Marshal took a "championship" theme in 2011.  Led by a sign that said "We are the champions," Wayne wore an authentic UConn men's basketball jersey (uniform #14 for 14/WILI), direct from the UConn equipment room, to honor the 2011 NCAA champions, with UConn Husky headwear, and oversized, fluffy blue and white UConn slippers, and marched with 13 members of the 2011 state champion Windham High School Girls Basketball team who were in game uniforms--with head coach Ken Valliere.  Wayne and the girls dribbled basketballs and carried radios.


"The Frogs of Windham" -- Twin frogs from different mothers.  Wayne is the frog on the right.

In 2012, Wayne led the parade with WILI's Frogfest '05 fiberglass/ceramic frog "the Frogcaster."  The two were dressed like identical twins.  

In 2013, Wayne was a patriotic butterfly, with large red, white, and blue wings which moved, black boom box shoes, a green jump suit, a huge red, white, and blue tie, red, white, and blue headgear including (butterfly) antennae, and of course a red BOOM BOX tuned to 14/WILI.


The 2014 parade began with Wayne riding atop the Willimantic Police Department's newly acquired MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) retrofitted tank that had been used in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now part of the W.P.D.'s "Special Operations Group."  Wayne used a home-made T-shirt cannon to fire t-shirts to the crowd.  He wore his Uncle Sam hat, and a Bill of Rights shirt with a 5-foot long tie.


Wayne led the 2015 parade in Marge Bachand's classic 1956 T-Bird, wearing the Windham High School drum major hat, Kathy Clark's red white and blue sequined vest, a five-foot long red white and blue tie, red boom box, and black boom box shoes
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