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Judges, Additions Announced For Labor Day Parade



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Newtown will hosts its longstanding end-of-summer celebration on Monday, September 2, when most residents participate in or view The 58th Annual Labor Day Parade.

One of the largest Labor Day parades in the state, the event will step off at 10 am from Main Street at Currituck Road. Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Chief Bill Halstead has been tapped to serve as Grand Marshal, leading those who will follow the theme of “Volunteers Keeping Our Community Strong” through floats, displays, and performances.

Following Mr Halstead in the line of march will be all five of Newtown’s volunteer fire companies, plus marching bands, civic and school groups and organizations, dancers, military vehicles, and politicians, among others.

The parade route goes south on Main Street before turning onto Glover Avenue. It follows Glover to its intersection with Queen Street, and then heads north on Queen Street to its intersection with Church Hill Road.

Emcees are traditionally stationed near the flagpole on Main Street, along Glover Avenue, and in front of Bank of America on Queen Street. The Grand Marshal, his judges — Jennifer Chaudhary, Janet Knapp, Alex Rankin, Charlie Rankin, Kris Schwartz, and Shannon Will — and the Labor Day Parade Committee will also be on the western side of Queen Street, in front of the bank.

Mrs Will is the Secretary and a Firefighter with Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue, and Mrs Knapp is the company's bookkeeper. In addition, her older daughter Erica is on of the fire company's engineers.

Judges that Monday will be selecting winners for a number of awards, including Best Musical, Senior and Junior Divisions; Best Non-Musical, Most Colorful, Best Float, Best School, Best Fire Company, Best New Entry, Most Patriotic, Most Fitting Parade Theme, and The Rooster Award (Most Crowd Pleasing).

Regardless of the ties for some of the judges and the parade's grand marshal, Labor Day Parade Participant Chair and Lineup Coordinator Melissa Kopcik said this week that Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue will be eligible for The 2019 Best Fire Company Award.

"They show up, they dress in uniform, and put on a great presentation to represent their department," she said this week. "They deserve to be judged."

The Labor Day Parade Committee expects to announce its 2019 Legends and Pioneer Award within the week. Launched in 2007, this award was created by the parade committee when it became apparent that there were many entries that participated in and around the parade year after year without recognition for all of their efforts.

Applications to participate in this year’s parade have closed. Sponsorships and donations are still sought, however.

It costs approximately $30,000 to put on the Newtown Labor Day Parade, according to its committee. Melissa Kopcik, the participant chair and lineup coordinator, said on August 21 that the committee is approaching the $25,000 mark, “and is still receiving donations from many generous residents.”

Donations can be done in person — the committee’s final pre-parade meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28, at 6 pm, in the lower meeting room of Newtown Savings Bank’s office building on Main Street — or online at newtownctlabordayparade.org/sponsors. For additional information send e-mail to sponsor@newtownctlabordayparade.org.

New Additions

According to Melissa Kopcik, who has returned to coordinate the line of march, there are a few new entries paradegoers can look forward to on September 2.

NewArts will have a float this year, according to Mrs Kopcik, featuring performers from its recent run of Matilda, The Musical.

Silver City Quarter Midget Club, a nonprofit club based in Meriden, with drivers ages 5-16 racing real quarter midget racing cars, is a new addition to the parade line-up. Among the club’s members, according to Mrs Kopcik, is Newtown resident Jake Fattibene.

The AC Connecticut U13 boys’ soccer team, which captured the United States Soccer League national championship in July — and includes Newtown resident Johnny Celli on its roster — will also be marching.

While many people prefer to park as close to the parade route as possible, shuttle busses will be running between St Rose of Lima Church at 46 Church Hill Road and Hawley School, at 49 Church Hill Road. While just a distance of approximatley 300 yards, taking a ride from the parking lot of the town's Catholic church, which has hundreds of parking spaces, to the eastern point of the parade route will open up some of the congestion that section of Church Hill Road often sees the morning of the parade.

"We need to stress using the shuttle buses," Mrs Kopcik said, "and paying close attention to Newtown PD and street directors in order to keep our spectators and participants safe, which is our utmost concern."

Easy Collections For Food Pantry

Volunteers for FAITH Food Pantry (FFP) will be trying a new approach to collecting donations for the nonecumnical pantry this year.

The pantry has been part of the parade, and has received donations from attendees, for a number of years. Volunteers have asked people to put nonperishable items into a plastic bag, which is then picked up as FAITH’s group marches.

This year, the food pantry will also be putting out collection bins. The cardboard containers will be in front of Trinity Episcopal Church, 36 Main Street; The Newtown Bee office, 5 Church Hill Road; and Newtown Police Department, 3 Main Street. Additional locations may be added.

FAITH Food Pantry volunteer Terry Ferris said this week the additional collection points represent the food pantry’s way of “trying to make things easier” for paradegoers.

“Having the bin on Church Hill Road means people won’t have to carry their bags all the way up the hill if they don’t want to,” she said of the Newtown Bee location. “The line of march will still accept donations from those along the parade route,” she confirmed.

In addition to FFP volunteers, members of the Newtown High School varsity and junior varsity girls soccer teams will be picking up donations, Mrs Ferris said.

The current wish list from FFP includes canned fruit, cereal (healthy and/or kids), coffee or tea, jelly or jam, laundry detergent (small bottles or pods), liquid dish soap, paper goods (toilet tissue, paper towels, napkins), macaroni and cheese, pet food, shampoo and conditioner, snacks (cookies, crackers, fruit snacks, etc), and toothpaste and toothbrushes.

“We have a growing need for reusable bags for our clients,” Mrs Ferris mentioned this week. “We are encouraging people to donate items in resusable bags.”

Members of the Tuesday morning team of volunteers at FAITH Food Pantry stand behind one of the collection bins the pantry has received permission to place along the Labor Day Parade route this year. —Bee Photo, Hicks
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