Groton holds 40th annual Fourth of July Parade
Groton — Parade marchers, from veterans to youth sports players, and an array of patriotic floats, fire trucks and antique cars proceeded through downtown, as onlookers applauded and waved flags during the 40th annual Fourth of July Parade on Thursday.
Ella Fiore of Gales Ferry, who was at the parade with her grandson, Christopher Page and daughter, Angela Page, said her family has been attending the parade for the past 9 years.
"It's a family event that we can do on the Fourth, and it's patriotic, it's community and it's fun," Fiore said.
Former UConn women's basketball star Kara Wolters, who is an in-studio analyst for SportsNet New York, was the grand marshal of the parade that began at Poquonnock Plains Park and continued along Route 1 to the Groton Shopping Plaza. The parade's theme was "Groton - America's Hometown." Representatives of the military, veterans groups, community and cultural organizations, sports leagues, businesses, first responders, pageant winners, and elected officials were among the participants.
Erik Hutchinson and his wife and two children, of Plymouth, Mass., who were in the area camping, were watching the parade for the first time. He said they were looking for a parade and decided the Groton parade, with the military in the area and the nearby Coast Guard Academy in New London, would be nice.
"They're loving it. They're having a great time," he said of his sons, as fire trucks made their way down the road.
For many area residents, the parade has become a tradition.
Uncasville residents Keith and Rachel Newer, who were wearing flag shirts, said the parade has become something their children look forward to and something they look forward too, as well. They meet up with friends every year at the parade.
Keith said he feels that this time of year, between the parade and fireworks next week at Sailfest, is a time when people from all walks of life come together and enjoy summer festivities and the nation's independence.
"I think everyone just disagrees so politically and everyone’s always at each other’s throats that between this parade and the fireworks next week, it’s the one time where people forget about everything else and just have fun together," he said.
The Newers were sitting beside their longtime friend Deb Girandola of Ledyard, who remembers bringing her son, now 11, to the parade for the first time when he was three months old. She said the parade has become a tradition for the family.
"Everybody’s cheerful," she said. "It’s a great way to celebrate."
This year's event was particularly important to her, she said, because two years ago the Newers brought her children to the parade and ensured the tradition continued for them while she was in the hospital with her husband, who was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in April.
Girandola said that she was happy to be there on Thursday with friends and family and realize they are supported.
"Traditions mean a lot," she said.
Sisters Ann Buonocore, of New London and Mystic, and Toula Buonocore, of Groton, have loved parades since marching and twirling batons in parades as children. When Toula moved to Groton in 2008, the sisters started attending the parade with their parents, who loved watching the parade. The sisters said their father has since passed away and their mother is now older.
Ann said she and her sister were continuing the tradition and attending the parade Thursday to not only celebrate their nation's independence and their love of parades — but good memories.
Ann said she gets choked up when she sees the young people in uniform marching in unison in the parade.
"Because of them and because of the forefathers you have independence and you have freedom here in the United States. God Bless America," Toula added. "It's all about God Bless America."