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
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
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
"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,
"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.
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