WALLINGFORD — Thousands of marchers and floats filed through downtown and beyond during the Wallingford 350+2 Jubilee Parade on Saturday afternoon.
The floats featured grape stompers from Gouveia Vineyards, ghouls from the Trail of Terror, a tree created by the library to represent the town’s growth and even a Tom Cruise look alike.
“It was great to see crowds every step of the parade, every inch there were people and cheers and it was a wonderful ... to have over 100 units marching,” said Christine Mansfield, jubilee planning committee co-chair. “Wallingford shined really brightly today, which was no surprise to us.”
Committee Co-chair Bob Devaney said the parade was a match for
those held for the town’s 300th and 325th jubilees, with crowds gathered along the two mile route from Moses Y. Beach Elementary School to Lyman Hall High School. The parade started at 1:30 p.m. and continued past 4 p.m.
“There’s so many people on the sidewalks, so many marchers, it reminds me of 1970 and 1995,” he said.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. noted the groups that marched included dozens of organizations from across the state and beyond, including the Governor’s Horse Guard, the Shriners and their miniature vehicles and motorcycles, and numerous fife and drum corps
“It’s a wonderful, spontaneous expression of joy,” he said.
Dickinson was at the front of the parade with a contingent of local and state officials, including Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. He later joined parade announcer Tony Terzi on a stage set up at the intersection of Center and Main streets.
Parade Grand Marshal Chris Ulbrich thanked the countless volunteers that worked through the pandemic to plan the parade and jubilee, work that began seven years ago. The Ulbrich Stainless Steel float was one of the first in the parade. It featured a Tom Cruise look-alike and a glittering fighter plane, a nod to the company’s work in the aerospace industry.
“Who would have thought two years ago that we’d be here today,” Ulbrich said, a reference to the delay of the jubilee for two years because of the pandemic.
The outpouring for the parade shows how tight-knit the town is, said Seymour resident Ed Bobbins, who has built a relationship with the Wallingford community through his career at the local post office and his marriage to a native, Carolyn Lavelle.
“Just proud of this town, very, very proud of this town,” he said.
The parade was the first event in the jubilee’s main week of celebration. Today, the town will observe the Juneteenth holiday commemorating the end of slavery. Witness stones will be placed at locations in town where enslaved persons lived or worked. There will also be an International Night celebration at the Spanish Community of Wallingford.
Today also marks the jubilee’s Faith Day at Choate Rosemary Hall’s Seymour St. John Chapel. A full list of the jubilee festivities can be found at the event’s website: sites.google.com/view/wallingford350/.
Reporter Devin Leith-Yessian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.