BRIDGEPORT — On a Monday evening in April, more than 100 parents and students gathered at Flood Middle School in Stratford for an event called “Flowers for the Float.” Working with The Barnum Festival, the school had decided to build a tribute float to honor the victims of 12/14.
In memory of the 26 children and educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook School, the Stratford group designed and dedicated the float they called “We Choose Love.” The work session in April was to create hundreds of duct tape flowers and leaves for the float, which was to be a part of Stratford’s Memorial Day Parade.
The float will return to the roads this weekend, when it is part of The Barnum Festival’s Great Street Parade on Sunday, June 30.
The theme of the float is a magical garden. In the center stands a single unicorn, a universal symbol for peace.
Throughout the garden are butterflies, symbolizing the children who were lost. All the flowers in the garden were made by students and their families out of colored duct tape. Art teachers Michelle Genuario and Aubrey Booska led an instructional class on how to make the flowers, and then worked with students for several weeks to create hundreds of the beautiful floral masterpieces.
Also featured on this float is a continuous vine made with hundreds of duct tape leaves. Flood School students, along with people from the community, were invited to write directly on the leaves positive messages of hope, love, and prayers for peace. Many chose to honor the memory of a loved one.
“People clearly want to send the message that they reject the idea of violence,” said Eileen Ferrigno, an FMS PTA member and Barnum Festival organizer who designed the float. “The purpose of this project was meant to help all those who worked on it, an outlet to help heal our broken hearts.”
Barnum Festival Ringmaster John F. Stafstrom as well as Stratford Mayor John Harkins were on hand to support all the efforts of the volunteers.
The Great Street Parade will step off at noon on Sunday, following The Park City Route. Marchers will leave from the corner of Brooklawn Avenue at North Avenue, following North to Park Avenue, then Park to Capitol Avenue, turning onto Lincoln Boulevard and heading for the finish at Central High School.
For additional information visit www.barnumfestival.com or call 203-367-8495.