Virus pushes quirky annual parade online
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s quirky Boom Box Independence Day parade has gone online this year because of the pandemic for what is being dubbed the Zoom Box Parade.
The event, held annually in Willimantic, dates to 1986, when the town couldn’t find a marching band for its Memorial Day parade and organizers approached radio station WILI-AM for help. Station officials said it was too late to organize and publicize an event for that holiday, but they began planning for the Fourth of July, and the tradition was born.
The station provides the marching band music, and those in the parade and watching along the route normally blast the music through their radios.
This year, because a parade along Main Street was deemed a virus-related health risk, the canned music will be accompanied online by a slide show and drone videos from past parades. Gov. Ned Lamont, who had planned to march Saturday, instead provided an opening message for the video, which will be broadcast on the station’s website and over Facebook Saturday at 11 a.m.
“This parade is a very important event for our local community, but we called it off for all the right reasons,” said Wayne Norman, the local radio personality who serves as the event’s grand marshal. “The parade always had a quirkiness about it, and we have tried to replicate that in the virtual version.”
Other towns also are improvising their celebrations after parades and fireworks were canceled.
The Columbia Congregational Church organized a drive-by parade in which cars and fire trucks will caravan through the small Eastern Connecticut town for spectators who will watch from their front lawns.
Church officials said they got the idea for the “Honkn’ Hello Car Parade” from people who have been celebrating birthdays by having friends and family members drive by their homes.