Changes Needed To Parade Organization
To the Editor:
After completing the Labor Day parade, I am trying to formulate a few thoughts despite my overheated body. Let’s start with any definition one can find for a parade, which is a continuous marching event for the purpose of entertaining those lining the route. It is not a political rally, a dance recital, or a concert. All of those activities have other venues to perform in but can be included if they conform to the definition of a parade.
We have marched in hundreds of parades, some much larger than Newtown, but never have experienced so many delays and protracted stoppages.
Let’s begin with arrival by 9 am for a step off at 10 am, which we assume happened, but since we were in the fourth division, we did not move for nearly two hours. The question we were all asking was what the delay was. Eventually, we got to the parade route, only to be stopped every 50 yards or so for some unknown reason. This continued throughout the parade but became intolerable by the 12-minute delay in front of the middle school in the blazing sun. From this vantage point, we could get a glimpse of the cause of the delay: i.e. each performing group was allowed to stop and perform in front of the reviewing stand. This was obviously the main reason that a two-hour parade was turned into four-plus hours. Every parade we have participated in, each of the participants danced, sang, played, and cheered past the reviewing stand without stopping.
We don’t believe the parade organizers have any idea how disruptive this practice of stopping to perform is to those following. Musical groups have difficulty sustaining their rhythm and march when there are frequent stops that diminish their performance. In addition, many of the participants were in dress uniforms or costumes and were noticeably uncomfortable, some of whom were unable to continue. Our past experience with this parade was that there were always too many delays, but this was the worst. If for no other reason than the existing heat advisory, parade marshals should have kept the parade moving.
Some suggestions for the future include establishing rules to keep the parade moving, especially past the reviewing stand. Second, put the politicians at the end so that they can mingle without halting the parade. Third, have parade marshals designated to keep units moving. And finally, consider limiting the number of participants. It might not have been apparent to those in the reviewing stand, but for those of us in the fourth division, it was obvious that many in the crowd had had enough parade after four-plus hours and were headed to a cooler place.
I cannot speak for the organization that I was with, but without some changes, I will be elsewhere next year with friends and family.
20 F Heritage Village, Southbury September 5, 2018