MERIDEN — Hector Cardona Sr., a retired Meriden police officer who is well-known throughout the city, has been named grand marshal of the 30th annual Daffodil Festival parade.
Cardona, who served on the Meriden Police Department for 32 years, will lead the parade, which kicks off Saturday, April 29, at 11:30 a.m.
Cardona, who was a member of the police honor guard, marched annually in the parade from 1999 until his retirement from the police department in 2013.
Despite his previous involvement in the parade and festival, the announcement came as a surprise.
“I was shocked,” Cardona said. “I was honored that they chose me.”
Cardona was born in Puerto Rico and came to Meriden when he was 7 years old. He attended local schools and applied to work for the police department in 1983.
During his career with the department, Cardona served as a crisis negotiator. In 2013, he won a worldwide Facebook contest for the best police officer mustache.
Cardona is also chairman of the Puerto Rican Festival, which will celebrate its 50th annual event this year.
The Daffodil Festival parade starts near the Southington town line and continues into Hubbard Park, concluding near the band shell. Several public safety agencies and organizations march.
“It’s exciting, people love it,” Cardona said.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati called the honor “well deserved” and said Cardona is a face and name that all city residents recognize.
Though appreciative of the honor, Cardona remains humble.
“I’m glad to be part of the city in this way,” Cardona said. “I’m sure there’s other people more deserving than I am, but I was flattered, and I can’t say no to something like that.”