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For Marchers, A Day To Show Pride

August 7, 2005
By THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, Courant Staff Writer

The temperature was in the 80s, the sky dusty blue and the streets were lined with happy men, women and children Saturday as the Hartford Steel Symphony "Colors" hit their notes at the 43rd annual West Indian Independence Parade.

Three little girls with beaded and braided hair played small pink plastic horns and stood on top of a small brick retaining wall along North Main Street as the drummers hit their staccato notes.

A young woman in a white outfit with long matching gloves, three large steel drums slung across her back and one above her head led the group and moved with the rhythm.

Six motorcycle police officers headed the parade, with two fire engines flashing red lights not far behind. The North End Little Leaguers marched up front. And not long afterward came Waterbury's 54th Regiment Marching Ensemble, with teens and younger members in white T-shirts and khaki shorts and black straw hats with glittering silver bands and tall green feathers.

Tanea Mills, 7, of Hartford, who aspires to be a cheerleader, looked at it all and said she liked the band and the drill team. But she also kept an eye on the numerous balloon salesmen along the way.

Smoke wafted by from the grill where the Brotherhood of Social Community Obligation Society was cooking hot dogs, chicken and fish. They also were hawking homemade, colorful T-shirts, depicting a muscled youth, to raise money for North End youth programs.

"Anything for the young, we try to get down with it," said Anthony Brown, the newest member of the club. Eddie Calloway, president of the organization, which was founded in 1959, said that the group is hoping to open a nightclub-style club for seniors so they, too, can socialize as the youths do.

Much of Hartford resident Mary Ferguson's family, including her son, four grandchildren, her cousin and daughter, were humming or swaying with the loud music, blaring both from the marching bands and the huge audio sets pumping out music from nearby apartment houses.

Her family, which came to Hartford from Trinidad, comes to the parade every year.

Mark Fenty, an East Hartford resident who emigrated from Barbados 18 years ago, was enjoying the parade with his wife, Lanika, their two young sons, Michael and Mark, and their daughter, Tiffany.

"This parade has more of an American flavor," he said. In Barbados, where on Friday the whole island celebrated the traditional after-harvest festival, it's a masquerade affair, with more dancing and no firetrucks, Fenty said.

When Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago attained independence in 1962, Hartford held its first festive West Indian Parade.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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