The West Hartford neighborhood’s children donned patriotic costumes of America’s historical figures for the parade in celebration of Independence Day
By Dexter McCann
Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Babe Ruth, and Alex Morgan were just a few of the historical figures parading around Linbrook Road to celebrate Independence Day on Thursday morning. The parade, in its 41st year, is reminiscent of Halloween, with the neighborhood’s children dressing up as historical American figures in celebration of the holiday.
Melissa Saunders, the parade organizer, estimated before the event that there might be up to 60 attendees. But, the actual turnout surpassed even her own expectations, and the block was packed with excited children and adults alike.
Before the parade kicked off, all the children were judged in a friendly costume competition, with categories for both group and individual costumes. Among the more creative costumes was a group of Rosie the Riveters, a family of Babe Ruths, wearing both Yankees and Red Sox jerseys, and a dynamic duo of U.S. Women’s Soccer Team stars in Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz, just to name a few.
Following the judging of the costumes, the kids hopped on bikes, scooters, and even wagons as they prepared to start the parade. The festivities were officially kicked off by a drummer, who led the group of eager children in a big loop around the “horseshoe neighborhood.” There, the paraders were cheered on by their neighbors, several of whom set up chairs outside of their houses in order to watch.
One resident, for whom watching the parade had become an annual tradition, emphatically said, “This is just great!” when asked about what the event meant to the neighborhood.
After the children finished their ride around the neighborhood, they paused to purchase snacks and drinks from the organizers of the event. All proceeds generated will be passed down to next year’s organizers to ensure the event continues to run smoothly.
The winners of the costume contests were announced as the kids relaxed and cooled off with snacks and drinks. While winners got first pick of the prizes available, every child ended up receiving a prize, most of which were described as “patriotic trinkets.”
Initially, the plan was to have a fire truck follow the children around the neighborhood in the parade. However, the truck was delayed due to an emergency, and instead came later, after the parade had finished. The children were allowed to go on board and explore the truck, but were not allowed to play in an open fire hydrant, as they had in years past, with the West Hartford Fire Department citing concerns over water pressure.
Instead, several families set up sprinklers, giving the kids a space to play and cool off.
Despite the fire hydrant disappointment, Saunders said that she thought the event went “really well,” and added that “everybody had a great time.
“The costumes were great, and I feel like they really encompassed the American spirit,” she added.
The parade will return next year for the 42nd consecutive year, and next year’s organizers can only hope that the 2020 iteration of the bike parade will prove as successful as 2019’s was on Thursday.
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