Norwich Bulletin 2013 Boom Box Parade story
From Norwich Bulletin, July 4, 2013
Willimantic parade draws eclectic crowd
By JOHN BARRY
Willimantic, Conn. —
The 28th Fourth of July Boom Box Parade had just about everything.
The parade included military units, local businesses and civic groups. Participants rode in colorful floats and antique cars. Numerous children rode bicycles or scooters or were pulled in wagons or strollers by their parents. Most marchers were decked out in patriotic red, white and blue.
The only thing missing were marching bands.
Instead, as in the previous 27 years, music was provided by radio station WILI through radios carried by marchers and members of the crowd.
Actually, boom boxes seemed non-existent among the crowd lining Main Street’s sidewalk, but enough marchers carried them so the sound of patriotic music never completely faded away.
As he has every year, WILI morning host Wayne Norman led the parade as its grand marshal. This year, Norman wore a colorful butterfly costume.
“I like it because everybody can participate,” Ellen Haggerty- Tambornini said. “It’s a real old-fashioned town parade.”
“Really, you can be whatever you want to be,” said Siobhan Leonard, who was dressed in Medieval garb. She and her 4-year-old daughter Emily were two of a couple of dozen marchers with the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. Emily wore a Snow White costume.
Five marchers from the Windham Area Interfaith Ministries donned a red dragon costume like something from a Chinese New Year’s parade.
About 60 members of the Haggerty family took part in the parade. The family rode in a float decorated like a pirate ship, a 1950 Buick Super and two fire trucks. In keeping with the pirate theme, they wore T-shirts calling themselves the “Arrrgharosa Pirates.”
“This, I believe, is our 18th year,” family member Ken Folan said. “Every year it’s followed by a family picnic.”
Some of the marchers had serious themes.
One of the biggest groups, with dozens of marchers carrying pro-immigration signs, was the Connecticut Immigrant Voices Coalition.
The Connecticut Valley Atheists rode in a truck a short distance behind a group from Our Lady of Guadaloupe friary in Griswold.
A group that wants Windham to allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards featured several marchers in chicken costumes, including one walking on stilts.
Aja Collins of Willimantic marched with her children, Maya, 8, Giovanni, 2, and Zofia, 8 months.
“Our government has been illegally spying on us,” Collins said. “We wanted to come out today and let everyone know we support our Constitution.”
Also marching in the parade were U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., state Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who wore a pair of eye-catching red high heels.
“This is the best Fourth of July parade in the state,” Blumenthal told members of the Wrobleski and Maloney families before the parade began.
“I haven’t been since it’s grown so much bigger,” Shirley Plesz said. “It draws a lot of people downtown.”