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Labor Day Parade Canceled



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For the first time in nearly 60 years, Newtown will not have a Labor Day parade.

Melissa Kopcik, who has served as the Labor Day parade committee participant chair and lineup coordinator since 2017, contacted The Newtown Bee on July 8 to formally announce the cancellation of what would have been the 59th Annual Newtown Labor Day Parade. COVID-19 was the reason.

“Under the circumstances — and everyone’s safety is our utmost concern — we are not going to proceed,” she said Wednesday morning.

As recently as two weeks ago, there was a glimmer of hope for the end-of-summer tradition.

Parade Committee President Nick Kopcik told The Newtown Bee in June that he was still talking with First Selectman Dan Rosenthal about the parade. No decision had been made as of June 24, he said.

“With openings happening, we need to see if there is an increase in cases,” Kopcik said that week, referencing the first two phased reopenings of businesses after state-mandated closings that took place in the spring to stop the spread of the international pandemic. “That’s going to be one of the deciding factors.”

The Grand Marshal and each year’s parade theme are usually announced by early spring. Time was also running out to line up sponsors, volunteers, and participants.

An estimated 4,000 people lined the streets of Newtown to view the town's first-ever Labor Day parade back on September 3, 1962. John F. Kennedy was in the White House, Fidel Castro had taken power in Cuba, and Lee Glover was in charge here in Newtown... of the parade that is.

The longtime chief of Newtown Hook & Ladder was picked to serve as the Grand Marshal that inaugural year. He was invited to serve in the lead position again the following year; again in 1967, when he shared the honors with Herb Lewis and James Cavanaugh.

Glover was once again the grand marshal in 1971, when the parade theme was dedicated to "the firemen of Newtown."

For the 50th annual event in 2011, Glover was again tapped to lead the celebrated event, making him the only person to have the honor that many times.

Melissa Kopcik is already planning for the future.

“We’ll be back for 2021,” she said Wednesday. “We’ll be back, stronger than ever.”

The 58th Annual Labor Day Parade makes its way south on Main Street on Monday, September 2, 2019. After weeks of wrangling with the issue, The Labor Day Parade Committee has announced the 2020 parade has been canceled. —Bee file photo
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Chief Bill Halstead was the grand marshal for last year's Labor Day Parade. He is seen here with two of his grandchildren, nearing the end of the parade route on Queen Street. —Bee file photo
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