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Parade Committee Sees That Newtown Marches On

The Irish melodies played by bands nationwide in St Patrick's Day parades are still swirling on the currents, but it is not too early to start thinking about a parade that is near and dear to the hearts of so many: The 52nd annual Newtown Labor Day Parade.

Newtown Labor Day Parade President Beth Caldwell and committee members Robin Buchanan, Andy Cluff, Dan Cruson, Ellie Whalen, Stacey Olszewski, Betsy Kenyon, Kym Stendahl, Kelly Stendahl, Steve Bigham, and Tom D’Agastino began meeting in January to plan the September 2 event.

“We’re trying to keep the parade all about Newtown this year, and all that makes it special,” Ms Caldwell said Thursday, March 28. With that in mind, she is pleased to announce the parade theme for 2013, “We Are Newtown — Marching Strong!”

Additionally, Ms Caldwell said that a decision had been reached on the grand marshal for the parade. “We’re really excited to say that the grand marshal this year is… the Town of Newtown!” she exclaimed. “I get chills when I say that,” she admitted, and added that many details must still be worked out, so far as having the first ever entity, rather than a person, as grand marshal.

The committee plans to select a photographic or artistic image of Newtown to serve as the cover of the parade program, she said. Local people who are representative of the spirit of Newtown will be asked to submit a brief statement about the town, which will be collected into the parade program “biography” for the grand marshal.

The past two years found the parade stepping off at times other than the traditional 10 am start, but this year, said Ms Caldwell, the committee has decided to return to that start time with which paradegoers and participants are most familiar:  “10 am seems to work best for everyone,” she said.

Familiar faces will be among the judges stationed at the Queen Street grandstand. Members of the Newtown clergy are being invited to serve as judges, casting their votes and awarding the coveted Rooster Award.

Longtime parade fans know that there is always a grandstand with announcers set up on Queen Street, near the finish of the parade, and another one at the flagpole. This year, an additional stand with announcers will be added to the parade route, most likely at the intersection of Glover Avenue and Main Street.

“We have met with representatives of each of fire departments is town, and one of our priorities for the 2013 parade is to spotlight them in a manner that allows people to embrace them,” Ms Caldwell said. That embracement is literal and figurative, she emphasized, as she hopes members of the companies will walk alongside the polished vehicles, where viewers can shake their hands and, yes, embrace them. Likewise, she said, the spotlight will be on the town’s first responders.

As they do every year, the committee is encouraging clubs, organizations, and individuals to enter floats in the parade, reflecting the 2013 theme. “We love to have lots of floats, and seeing the creativity of the people and organizations in town,” said Ms Caldwell.

Popular bands, musicians, and entertainers will return to the streets of Newtown that day, and the Wells Fargo Stagecoach will participate for its third year in a row. Look up, up, and away, because midway through the parade vintage fighter planes and a B-17 will be soaring overhead.

“We’re looking for volunteers to assist us, because the National Flag will be back again,” Ms Caldwell said. The giant 45-by-90-foot will be unfurled prior to the start of the parade, at the flagpole and again on Queen Street, and several people are needed to hold the flag aloft.

The parade committee is hopeful that residents will donate to support the parade. Costs to cover the bands and other clubs from out of town add up quickly, and every year the group struggles to raise the nearly $25,000 it costs to put on the parade. “We are seeking sponsors, as well,” said Ms Caldwell. They are pleased to have Newtown Savings Bank once again be the key sponsor of the 52nd annual Newtown Labor Day Parade. Sponsorships can be purchased at the platinum, gold, or silver levels. Individuals and organizations are also encouraged to donate to sponsor a specific band or parade entry. Sponsors and donors receive a listing in the parade program and the parade website, www.newtownlabordayparadect.org, based on support level.

Individual donations may be made by sending a check made out to Newtown Labor Day Parade, to the parade committee treasurer, Andy Cluff, at 91 Boggs Hill Road, Newtown CT 06470.

“Our goal for this year’s parade,” said Ms Caldwell, “is to give Newtown an avenue for celebration.”

To volunteer or for information concerning sponsorship, contact Beth Caldwell at beth.Caldwell@raveis.com or call 203-994-4849.

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