wili-am Posted on 8:13 am

Norwich Bulletin 2013 Boom Box Parade previe

From Norwich Bulletin, July 3, 2013

In the news: Radio host Wayne Norman returns this Fourth of July as the grand marshal of the 28th annual Boom Box Parade. Norman, each year dressed in a different costume, leads the unique parade through Willimantic, from Jillson Square west on Main Street to Memorial Park. Instead of using marching bands, music for the parade is provided by radios tuned to WILI-AM, the parade sponsor and Norman’s employer. “We play marching band songs,” Norman said. “That’s what creates the sound track for the parade.”
Fun on the Fourth: The parade began in 1986 when no marching bands could be found for the Memorial Day Parade, and a woman named Kathy Clark suggested using boom boxes instead, Norman said. Because there wasn’t enough time to use the idea on Memorial Day, it was transferred to July 4th. Anyone can walk, ride or enter a float in the parade. There’s no pre-registration, “no real rules,” Norman said. Just show up. “Do what you want.” The parade has no theme. Just wear red, white, and blue and wave an American flag if you want.” Just bring a radio, Norman said. “The parade doesn’t work if you don’t.” Last year’s parade took about 80 minutes, and, Norman guessed, there were between 5000 and 7000 spectators and participants.
If you go: The parade will assemble about 9 a.m. at Jillson Square, and the marchers are scheduled to step off at 11 a.m. Safety guidelines include no spraying water, no throwing candy (but candy can be handed out), and no reckless riding or driving of vehicles.
Wacky Wayne: Last year, Norman dressed as a frog, including a face painted blue. He wore a UConn men’s basketball uniform in 2011 to honor the NCAA champions. In 2008, he rode in an electric wheelchair. He’s also ridden an adult tricycle, a go-cart, a motorcycle, and in 1998 he pulled the world’s largest boom box (actually a disguised bus) while inline skating. He wouldn’t reveal what’s on tap this year, except to say, “It will be something I haven’t done before.”
Radio icon: Norman has hosted his morning radio show on WILI since 1970. It’s the state’s active longest running show. He also is the color analyst on the UConn men’s basketball and football radio broadcasts since 1979, and does the radio play-by-play for Eastern Connecticut State University’s baseball team.
Quotable: “Many people find it more fun being in the parade than watching it,” Norman said. “It’s pretty good to see all the people out there.”