By LISA CAPOBIANCO
For the past 25 years, children and their families have flocked to Bristol during its annual holiday parade.
Sponsored by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and the Children’s Holiday Festival Committee, the 25th annual Children’s Holiday Parade will take place this Sunday at 1 p.m. sharp. The annual tradition involves a “Parade in Reverse,” in which children walk the parade route past the entertainers and participants who line the route. The parade kicks off at the Federal Hill green, and travels down Bellevue Avenue, High Street and Main Streets. During the parade, donated goodies are distributed to children.
“It puts everyone in the holiday spirit,” said Linda DiMatteo, Vice President of events at the Chamber who serves as co-chair of the Holiday of Festival Events Committee. “It’s getting the whole community together.”
This year, the parade is dedicated to Frank Johnson, the founder of the parade in reverse. Johnson has spent 40 years involved in the community, serving on the Bristol Zoning Commission and the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation. He also was president of the Bristol Chamber.
Every year the holiday parade brings a variety of entertainment, including singers, dancers, baton twirlers, bands, and more. This year, the Connecticut Patriots Fife and Drum Corps will return, and the Connecticut Theatre Company from New Britain will perform inside the gazebo on the Federal Hill green.
DiMatteo said every year also brings new parade vendors in addition to other ones who return on an annual basis. From schools and churches to local civic groups to Bristol museums, people from all walks of life participate in the parade. This year, the parade will feature over 45 vendors.
“People are very generous to this town,” said DiMatteo.
This year, donations will be collected for the Give a Little Warmth Project, which provides Bristol citizens in need with warm, knitted items. During the parade, donation bins will be located on Federal Hill. Members of the community are encouraged to bring any items of their choice, such as mittens, scarves, hats, and sweaters. Canned nonperishable items also are welcome. All items will be distributed by the United Way to different local organizations.
“We really want to help people in need,” said DiMatteo.
In the event of inclement weather, the 25th annual Children’s Holiday Parade will take place on Sunday, Dec. 13. Cancellation of the parade due to weather will be announced on the Central CT/Bristol Chamber website, http://www.centralctchambers.org/
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By LISA CAPOBIANCO