The annual WILI Boom Box Parade began in 1986 when no marching band could be found for Windham’s Memorial Day Parade. Five weeks later, the “Boom Box Parade” concept was born as WILI plays the marching band music on the air, while thousands march and watch, loudly playing their radios or boom boxes.
Wayne Norman, the color analyst for the UConn Huskies, and WILI morning show host, leads the procession of the 28th annual WILI Boom Box Parade Thursday morning to celebrate the 4th of July in Willimantic.
I’ve known Wayne Norman for quite a long time, especially from my time covering the UConn men’s basketball and football teams, but I find Wayne to be in his element when he is the official or unofficial “Grand Marshall” of the Boom Box Parade. He is always leading the way and usually in some ridiculous costume but this year his butterfly outfit had a very simple and meaningful design on the back…
Elysha Vega, 6, and his sister Mia, 4, blow their little noise makers as a variety of floats and marchers pass them on Main Street.
Despite the heat thousands of people jammed along Main Street to watch the parade.
The parade really has no definitive guidelines for what constitutes a float so many improvise with whatever they have available.
There was plenty of American Spirit to be found along the route as homes, businesses and people showed their red, white and blue pride.
The parade has always drawn a rather diverse crowd and this year was no different. A group of immigrants carrying the American Flag and signs of Aspiring Citizen marched past an umbrella with an American Flag design.
Independence Day allows us as Americans to freely speak our minds and voice our opinions even is they are not the most popular or considered politically correct. The Boom Box Parade has always had a certain open mindedness.
Rhonda Twiss offers some Lemonade to folks along Main Street as she was helping to promote the Willimantic Brew House which is located on the parade route.
Stephanie Richard of Willimantic wore plenty of red, white and blue, even a pair of star shaped sunglasses while she took some video of the parade.
Pure Americana, Paul Pelltetino, dresses as Uncle Sam, and Patricia McDonald wave to the crowd from the back of an old pickup truck.
You never know who or what you’ll encounter along the way, maybe even a chainsaw madman.
I have to say that my favorite part of the parade was when Jackie Lamittina of New Britain and Chelsey Chyer of Mansfield performed their fire breathing act for the crowd. As if it wasn’t hot enough already…