Families celebrate Boom Box parade in Willimantic

Families crowded Main St. in Willimantic Monday for the 37th annual Boom Box Parade.

WINDHAM, Conn. — Hundreds of Connecticut residents celebrated the Fourth of July at the 37th annual Boom Box Parade in Willimantic Monday.

The parade, stretching for miles, was full of local groups, 4th of July festivities, and more to celebrate.

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One thing notably not there, marching bands. This is because of its history. When it first started in 1986, marching bands could not be found so a local radio station, WILI-AM, played the music over the radio while the parade marched.

“The Boom Box Parade is one of the greatest parades in the state. There’s something in the water and Willimantic. I don’t know what it is. Everybody’s pretty jazzed up,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “I just like seeing everybody out .Everybody’s cheering. Everybody’s cheering for the state. Cheering for their town. “

Families packed Main Street for miles. It’s been a tradition for many families like the Tourigny family of Franklin to come.

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“I’ve been coming to the Boom Box Parade since I was little and it’s just been a tradition since I was younger. Now I bring my three kids,” mom Tiffany said. “It’s just important to me to have traditions to pass down to buy children. “

Veteran Bill Baraw says this parade reminds him why he served 20 years in the Navy.

“I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a good feeling. It’s nice to be able to come out here and do what I want,” the Coventry resident said.

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Performers from across the state came to walk in the parade including Hartford Proud, a group of school-aged children. Drum director Duffy Starks says it’s an amazing opportunity to be a part of the history.

“Today’s parade was one of the greatest. Celebrating the birth of America and coming out here and seeing all the happy faces,” he said. “Feel like being a celebrity walking through your own city.”

The holiday means something to each person who came to watch and each person to came to walk including Christie Demarchi with Pack 35 Cub Scouts.

“Fourth of July for me, personally, is about celebrating our freedom and remembering those who may not be here with us. My cousin was killed in Iraq and today’s his birthday,” the den leader said.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook,, Twitter and Instagram..

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