The focus of the 2013 Annual Labor Day Parade will be one on providing the town with “an avenue of celebration,” said Labor Day Parade Committee President Beth Caldwell, Monday, August 5, as preparations for the September 2 parade were being finalized.
“We want to make the parade as traditional as it has been in the past,” said Ms Caldwell. Still, the committee recognizes the need to acknowledge the impact of 12/14 on Newtown. “The parade will honor our first responders and all that makes Newtown special,” she said.
In a return to a longstanding tradition prior to 2011, this year’s parade will begin at 10 am. Streets on and adjacent to the parade route, from the top of Main Street to Glover Avenue and on to Queen Street, will be closed to traffic beginning at 9 am. Shuttle buses will run from the parking area of Hawley School to the top of Main Street for participants and paradegoers, from approximately 8 to 9 am.
The “We Are Newtown, Marching Strong” theme for this year’s parade coupled with the naming of the Town of Newtown as the grand marshal, rather than any one individual, leaves no doubt that it is the town’s spirit and resilience being feted this coming Labor Day.
At least a dozen individuals from Newtown have been asked to submit brief testimonials reflecting on “What Newtown Means To Me” for publication in the parade program, said Ms Caldwell. The Newtown High School cheerleaders, prior to the start of the parade, distribute parade programs along the parade route.
The order of march will reflect a desire to pay tribute to Newtown’s first responders.
“The parade will be led off by the Newtown Police Department Honor Guard,” Ms Caldwell said, “followed by a representative from each of Newtown’s emergency responders: the Newtown Police Department, the ambulance garage, the fire departments, and Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue.”
The Newtown High School band will be next in line of march.
“The first division this year will honor our first responders,” said Ms Caldwell, “with a total of 26 vehicles from the various departments, each accompanied by a band.” Parade viewers will enjoy several area bands that have not previously marched in a Newtown Labor Day Parade, she said.
“Our hope is that this will be an opportunity for crowds to thank our first responders for all they do, every day of the year,” Ms Caldwell said.
Unlike every other year, the emergency response companies will not be judged entries this year, allowing the companies to interact more with paradegoers, she said.
Junior and senior bands, floats, musical, nonmusical, and school entries will take part in parade competition, each hoping to be the one to crow about winning the Crowd Pleaser Rooster Award. This year the parade committee has added Most Patriotic, New Entries, Most Fitting Parade Theme, and Most Colorful to the areas of judging.
The Labor Day Parade Committee each year bestows The Legends and Pioneers Award on a group that has been a constant supporter of the parade. The Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard has been named the recipient of the 2013 honor.
“They have been a devoted participant of our parade for years,” Ms Caldwell said. “They represent the essence of our parade.”
Some things old and some things new are in the works for parade emcees this year, as well. The familiar voices of John Voket and John Klopfenstein will announce the parade from the perch at the flagpole, and on Queen Street, MaryAnn Murtha and Mike Giordanno will announce each entry as it passes the grand stand.
But near the intersection of Main Street and Glover Avenue, new voices will ring out, with representatives from “The Chaz and AJ Show” on radio station WPLR announcing the parade marchers.
“That has always been somewhat of a dead zone in the parade,” Ms Caldwell pointed out, and the committee hopes that emcees located midway through the parade will add to the excitement.
Longtime favorites will hit the streets on September 2, along with new additions, said parade committee member Robin Buchanan.
A parade without politicians would not be right, so look for Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy, and Senator John McKinney.
“The 2013 New England Champion Marching Cobras of New York will join us,” said Ms Buchanan. The Marching Cobras combine music, marching, dance, and entertainment, according to the band’s website.
Stratford’s Flood Middle School “We Choose Love” float, dedicated to the memory of the 26 lives lost 12/14 and built for this spring’s Barnum Festival in Bridgeport, will come to Newtown for the parade. Created from hundreds of duct tape flowers, a colorful garden surrounds the universal symbol of peace, a unicorn. Fluttering among the duct tape flowers are butterflies, representing the 20 children. Duct tape leaves are inscribed with messages of hope and love by Flood Middle School students, and Stratford residents.
St Vincent’s Swim Across the Sound “Night of Music” float will be another new addition to the 2013 parade, Ms Buchanan said, as will the Ben’s Lighthouse float. The My Place Restaurant and Sandy Hook Elementary School floats will be new this year, as well, she said.
“We will have several therapy dog groups marching this year, the 12/14 Foundation, and the Avielle Foundation,” she said. The Avielle Foundation was created by Avielle Richman’s parents, Jennifer and Jeremy, in honor of their daughter, Avielle, who died 12/14. The Avielle Foundation supports brain health research and community building.
Duck! Also riding in the parade will be Monroe Police Department Officer Todd Keeping and company, tossing thousands of the small rubber ducks he has received since the first ducks were put on display at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Monroe, this winter. The Ducks of Sandy Hook Facebook page hosted by Officer Keeping created a popularity that has the Newtown resident swimming in rubber ducks.
Not all who wish to participate have the mobility to do so. Landscape contractors or flatbed drivers willing to assist can contact Ms Buchanan at email@example.com.
“There are going to be other new entries, too,” Ms Buchanan said, and added that it is not too late to sign up to take part in the parade. Entry information can be found at www.newtownctlabordayparade.org.
“We’re excited to have The Albatross for our flyover this year,” Ms Caldwell said of the antique reconnaissance plane set to make an appearance overhead on Monday morning, and the Nation’s Flag will return.
The flag will be unfurled at the flagpole and again on Queen Street, before the start of the parade. The public is invited to participate in the events, scheduled to take place around 9:30 am.
The committee would like to reassure paradegoers that this year there will be no firing of any guns during the Labor Day Parade.
While finding participants and creating excitement for the parade is easy, “every year is a struggle,” said Ms Caldwell, so far as funding the parade. The committee is grateful to the Newtown Savings Bank, the Title Sponsor for 2013; as well as to platinum sponsors Ingersoll Auto of Danbury and Maplewood at Newtown; Rotary Club of Newtown and Newtown Veterinary Specialists, gold sponsors; and event sponsors Newtown Hardware, Caraluzzi’s, Leahy’s Fuel, and Atherton and Associates for supporting the parade.
Public donations, as well, are needed to offset the many costs of hosting a parade.
To donate, visit www.newtownctlabordayparade.org and select the donate tab; mail a check to Newtown Labor Day Parade, 91 Boggs Hill Road, Newtown CT 06470; or call Ms Caldwell for details at 203-994-4849.