September 23 - 30, 1998

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HPAfrican-American Parade to Attract Over 100,000

by Andy Hart

The Virginia State University Marching Band will be one of the star attractions at the Fifth Annual Connecticut African-American Parade this Saturday, September 26, through Downtown Hartford and the North End.

Parade organizer Jackie Bryant said over 100 bands, sororities, fraternities, churches and other organizations plus a host of politicians are scheduled to march in the parade, which is expected to draw over 100,000 people to the city.

The theme of this year's parade is "Celebrating Our African-American Grandparents and Elders - the Backbone of Our Culture." In the past, the parade has honored other facets of African-American culture, such as churches, families and children. Bryant said the parade committee chose to honor grandparents and elders this year because of the particularly strong role they have played in African-American history, especially during slavery days when most African-American children were looked after by men and women who were too old to work in the fields.

The parade is scheduled to step off from Bushnell Park at 10 am on Saturday. It will proceed up Trumbull Street to Main Street and then down Main to Albany Avenue, all the way up Albany to Woodland Street and then down Woodland to Keney Park.

In addition to the Virginia State Marching Band, bands from several local high schools are scheduled to participate in the parade along with the Connecticut Sounds Connection, which is composed of youngsters from cities and town throughout Connecticut. Bryant said delegations from Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana are also scheduled to take part in Saturday's festivities.

Immediately following the parade, a "Rib Burn-Off/Fish Fry" and a "Rally/Bazaar" will be held at Keney Park until approximately 7 pm. Bryant said many of the groups from the parade will perform at the park and among the cooks at the Rib Burn-Off will be Hartford Firefighter Ray Woods, whose ribs were such a big hit at this year's Taste of Hartford.

The parade and festival will be the climax of a month-full of activities celebrating African-American history and culture. On Friday, September 25, at 5:45 pm a "Steppin' Out - Greek Step/Drill Team Competition" will be held at the Hartford Jai Alai building on Weston Street in Hartford's North Meadows.

Among the other events that have been held by the Parade Committee was a "Poetry Fling" at the Hartford Public Library on September 3, an African Libation and Flag Ceremony at the Connecticut State Capitol on September 11, a Gospel Fest at Phillips CME Methodist Church on September 20 and an African Dance and Jazz Soiree at Capital Community-Technical College last night, September 21.

Bryant said it takes about 200 volunteers to put on the parade and festival and spots are still open. If you would like to volunteer, please call 242-1734. Next Week September 30.

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