Willimantic celebrating unique parade’s 30th year

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WILLIMANTIC — Willimantic’s unique Independence Day “Boom Box” parade is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

More than 5,000 participants and spectators are expected on Main Street on Saturday, carrying radios tuned to WILI-AM, which will provide the marching music.

The idea for the parade came in 1986 when organizers of a Memorial Day parade could not find a marching band and asked the local radio station to help. The station, needing some planning time, agreed instead to provide music for city’s Independence Day parade.

Radio personality Wayne Norman serves as the grand marshal each year.

The parade has been known for its independent spirit. Norman says anyone can show up and march. Participants are just asked to wear some red, white and blue and bring a radio.