NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON THE FIRST WILI BOOM BOX PARADE IN 1986
WHEN the ”band” lines up for Windham’s Fourth of July parade on Main Street Friday, there will be no horns or drums – just radios.
Billed as ”The Boom Box Band,” the marchers will tune their radios to 1400 on the AM band, station WILI, which has agreed to play 50 minutes of uninterrupted marches for the parade down Main Street.
Cathy Clark, who is organizing the parade, said she got the idea after Windham’s traditional Memorial Day parade was canceled this year because no marching bands could be found to participate.
”Everybody I talk with thinks it’s a really fun idea,” Ms. Clark said. ”It’s going to be fun, I think.”
”I just love the idea of trying something different, novel,” First Selectman Hanna K. Clements said. ”It will be interesting to experiment with it and see how it will work.”
”I would much prefer live music, of course, but at this point it’s not a question of either/or,” Mrs. Clements said. ”I’m delighted that there are people in the community enthusiastic enough to do something like this.”
”I didn’t really warm up to the idea right away,” said the senior disk jockey at WILI, Wayne Norman. ”But when we started talking about it, I thought it would be fun, and different.”
Mr. Norman said the station has a few classic marching songs, such as ”Stars and Stripes Forever,” which it can haul out for the event, and even if it has to repeat some of the records it can put together an unbroken 50-minute string of marching music.
”It might do well just because of the novelty of it,” Mr. Norman said. ”And if this thing does work, we might be inclined to do it again.
”I just don’t want to end up with a six-person parade,” Mr. Norman said. ”I hope people turn out for it.”
Ms. Clark said that in addition to The Boom Box Band, members of the group organizing the parade were calling on local neighborhood groups, amateur clowns, Little Leaguers, civic and fraternal organizations and favorite parade groups like the Boy Scouts, to have as many people participating as possible.
”Little by little, we’re getting things together,” Ms. Clark said. She said she was also trying to organize some nontraditional marching units, such as a division of handicapped people, and another of teen-age skateboarders.
Several years ago, during a summer festival, a crowd of spectators but no marchers showed up for a parade in Windham, Ms. Clark said, ”and now we’re hoping to have a parade where everybody marches and there’s no spectators.”
”The main thing,” she said, ”is we want to get enough people with radios to make this work.”
Ms. Clark said participants would line up at 10:30 A.M. at Memorial Park in downtown Willimantic, a city in Windham, and march eastward on Main Street to Jillson Square promptly at 11. The march is to end at 11:50 A.M., in time for WILI’s noon news report.
Mrs. Clements said she hoped the enthusiasm generated by The Boom Box Band would spread.