HARTFORD —— In celebration of the city's history, hundreds of people will gather for the annual Hooker Day parade Saturday.
The event honors Thomas Hooker, the city's founder, who led a procession of men, women and children to settle in Hartford in 1636.
"You could say that march was the original Hooker Day parade," said Jordon Polon of the Hartford Business Improvement District, which organized the event.
The parade steps off at the intersection of Asylum and High streets. It continues east on Asylum Street, south on Ann Street, east on Pearl Street, north on Trumbull Street, west on Church Street, south on Ann Street and west on Allyn Street, where it ends. It is expected to run from 2 to 3 p.m.
The event is known for its oddly dressed marchers, costumed animals and homemade floats. Spectators are encouraged to dress up as well.
The highlights of this year's event will include the Joseph A. Ferko String Band, large-scale puppets and wearable art, Hartford Classical Magnet School's marching gladiators and Mayor Pedro Segarra dressed as Thomas Hooker.
This year's marchers will include members of the Hartford Area Roller Derby, the Beat City Beauties, The Mary Hooker Monarchs (students from the Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker), the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association and the SoDo Neighborhood Association.
Judges will vote on the best group and best solo participants. The best group will win $500, while the best solo participant will win $100, Polon said.
A family-friendly after-party will take place on Allyn Street from 3 to 4 p.m. The after-party will include free cotton candy, face painting and music.
In case of rain, the parade will be rescheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m., organizers said.
Former Mayor Mike Peters organized the first Hooker Day parade in the early 1990s, ostensibly as a tribute to Hooker, but really just as a way to have fun. It was discontinued in 2001 but later revived by the Hartford Business Improvement District in 2008.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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