After 2 years of waiting, the Wallingford Jubilee begins with a massive parade

WALLINGFORD – Thousands of marchers and floats marched through the city center and beyond during the Wallingford 350+2 Jubilee Parade on Saturday afternoon.

The floats featured grape walkers from the vineyards of Gouveia, ghouls from the Path of Terror, a tree created by the library to represent the growth of the city, and even a Tom Cruise lookalike.

“It was great to see crowds at every step of the parade, every inch there were people and cheers and it was wonderful…to have over 100 units marching,” said Christine Mansfield, co-chair of the jubilee planning committee. “…Wallingford really shone today, which didn’t surprise us.”

Committee co-chairman Bob Devaney said the parade was a match for those organized for the city’s 300th and 325th jubilees, with crowds gathering 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 after 4 p.m.

“There are so many people on the sidewalks, so many walkers, it reminds me of the 1970s and 1995,” he said.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. noted that the groups marching included dozens of organizations from across the state and beyond, including the Governor’s Horse Guard, the Shriners and their toy vehicles and motorcycles, and numerous corps of fifes and drums.

“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 Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz. He then 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 who worked during the pandemic to plan the parade and jubilee, work that began seven years ago. The stainless steel Ulbrich tank was one of the first in the parade. It featured a Tom Cruise lookalike and a glittering fighter jet, a nod to the company’s work in the aerospace industry.

“…who would have thought two years ago that we would be here today,” Ulbrich said, referring to the postponement of the two-year jubilee because of the pandemic.

The outpouring for the parade shows just 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 city, very, very proud of this city,” he said.

The parade was the first event of the main week-long jubilee celebration. Today, the town will observe the June 16 feast commemorating the end of slavery. Witness stones will be placed at places in the city where enslaved people lived or worked. There will also be an International Night celebration to the Spanish community in Wallingford.

Today also marks Jubilee Faith Day at Seymour St. John’s Chapel in Choate Rosemary Hall. A full list of Jubilee festivities can be found on the event website:

Journalist Devin Leith-Yessian can be reached at [email protected]

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