Gi­ant car­toon bal­loons set to fly in pa­rade

The News-Times - - NEWS - By Ig­na­cio La­guarda

Latham Park swapped out Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe for Clif­ford the Big Red Dog on Thurs­day in Stam­ford.

A 40-foot-long in­flat­able Clif­ford, filled with 3,600 cu­bic feet of he­lium, gen­tly swayed in the wind in the spot that once held the con­tro­ver­sial 26-foot-tall statue of Mar­i­lyn in her iconic pose from “The Seven Year Itch.”

The car­toon-char­ac­ter-come-to-life was on dis­play as a teaser for the up­com­ing 25th an­nual Stam­ford Down­town Pa­rade Spec­tac­u­lar set for Nov. 18 and will fea­ture about a dozen in­flat­able char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing Elmo, Shrek, Big Bird and Padding­ton Bear.

This year’s big de­but will be a bal­loon of Daniel Tiger, the pop­u­lar char­ac­ter from PBS’ “Daniel Tiger’s Neigh­bor­hood.”

The only ob­sta­cle of a full bal­loon pa­rade is weather, as heavy winds caused the bal­loons to be can­celed two years ago and pre­vented them from fly­ing high last year.

“It’s go­ing to be a great pa­rade, and if we are lucky enough to have weather like this, it’s go­ing to be an all-star day,” said Sandy Gold­stein, pres­i­dent of the Stam­ford Down­town Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict, re­fer­ring to the per­fect weather on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Stam­ford Mayor David Mar­tin was in a whim­si­cal mood Thurs­day, glee­fully pro­mot­ing the pa­rade.

“One score and five years ago, our DSSD and Sandy Gold­stein brought forth to this great city a new idea, con­ceived in fun and ex­cite­ment for kids of all ages, and here we are 25 years later,” he said.

Mar­tin said the pa­rade has been a pos­i­tive for the city and its busi­nesses.

“This is a sin­gu­lar event, which has helped im­prove the city of Stam­ford and the down­town,” he said. “It is some­thing that kids of all ages en­joy, and it brings back my child­ish char­ac­ter as well.”

Mar­tin also par­tic­i­pated in a brief train­ing ses­sion Thurs­day for han­dlers us­ing the Clif­ford bal­loon, as “Who Let the Dogs Out” blasted over the speak­ers.

Mar­tin held a rope at­tached to Clif­ford’s head dur­ing the demon­stra­tion. When the rope han­dlers were in­structed to lower Clif­ford, Mar­tin found him­self cheekto-cheek with the clas­sic ca­nine char­ac­ter and gave him a kiss.

“It’s go­ing to be a fab­u­lous event,” he said.

The down­town pa­rade was orig­i­nally com­prised of only march­ing bands and trav­eled down Bed­ford Street, from Latham to Vet­er­ans parks, and back. Gold­stein joked that only 15 peo­ple watched the first pa­rade, most of whom were her fam­ily.

The route is now about a mile long, and in­cludes the fan-fa­vorite bal­loons. The pa­rade trav­els south on Sum­mer Street, start­ing from Hoyt Street, then turns east on Broad Street, mak­ing a quick right turn onto At­lantic Street. The route ends just past Tresser Boule­vard.

Be­sides bal­loons, the pa­rade will fea­ture dance troupes such as the Lo­cust Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter of Stam­ford, 11 march­ing bands from Stam­ford, Westch­ester County, and Long Is­land, as well as a bi­cy­cle stunt team per­for­mance.

Four floats will also be fea­tured in the pa­rade, in­clud­ing one car­ry­ing Stam­ford Teacher of the Year Camille Spauld­ing, a sev­en­th­grade so­cial stud­ies teacher at Cloo­nan Mid­dle School.

The pa­rade’s pre­sent­ing spon­sors are the Res­i­dence Inn and Court­yard by Mar­riott Stam­ford and Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia Group.

The fes­tiv­i­ties start the day be­fore with a gi­ant bal­loon in­fla­tion party from 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at Sum­mer and Hoyt streets.

Arnold Knit­tel, an as­so­ciate en­gi­neer with the city, has been vol­un­teer­ing at the pa­rade for 18 years.

Tyler Size­more / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Vol­un­teer bal­loon han­dlers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Stam­ford Down­town Spe­cial Ser­vices ma­neu­ver the 40-foot Clif­ford the Big Red Dog ballon at the 2018 Stam­ford Down­town Pa­rade Spec­tac­u­lar train­ing ses­sion at Latham Park in Stam­ford on Thurs­day. The pa­rade will take place in down­town Stam­ford on Nov. 18.

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