September 17, 2019

Don’t Miss the Best 10-Minute Parade in America … or at Least Connecticut! Happening in Lyme Today

The Grand Marshal rode in this grand automobile one year — tomorrow it will be a different vehicle! (File photo.)

Editor’s Note: (i) We are delighted to publish this article which we received from Lyme Selectman John Kiker. The author, Sadie Frankel, serves as an unofficial student reporter for the Town of Lyme.
(ii) Visit this link to read our related story titled,
Town of Lyme Hosts Annual July 4 Parade, Don Gerber to Serve as Grand Marshal.

LYME — July 4th is a day of festivities all around the country and there is no exception in the small town of Lyme, Conn. These celebrations include barbeques, people of all ages sporting red, white, and blue, and the well-known 4th of July parade on Cove Road.

The parade was originally established by the late pediatrician, Dr. William Irving, a resident of Cove Road, who began the parade in 1958 as a way to demonstrate patriotism and celebrate America on the birthdate of our country. It is said that it was his son who sparked the idea, bored and wondering why Lyme didn’t already have a parade.

No one quite knows quite when this parade will kick off each year as it is not a town-sponsored event, nor is it arranged by a specific group or association. It begins whenever everyone gets there, or as Dr. Irving was often quoted as saying, “somewhere precisely between 10 and 11 a.m.”

Dr. Irving organized the parade each year and ensured all appropriate groups were contacted for their participation. He served as the parade’s grand marshal until 2008, when he stepped down after 50 years.

Marchers come complete with candy, balloons … and smiles! Photo by Katie Reid.

People marching in the parade hold balloons and buckets full of candy, ready to toss the sweets to the youngsters, who are watching the parade pass.

The parade has evolved over time into a true community experience, where Lyme residents come together and celebrate their country through cheering, candy and music. Participants change yearly, but always consist of dedicated townspeople, who wish to spend the holiday with their friends, families and neighbors.

There is no order in which people march – spots are determined by who shows up first. Among the participants is always Camp Claire, with children and staff of all ages from the summer camp just down the road dressed in red, white, and blue, marching with enthusiasm. The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts also are a regular presence with their pack leaders in uniform waving flags.

Photo by Michele Dickey.

Next come the counselors and campers from Camp Claire, pictured above, as they proudly carry their banner and wave to spectators, while cheerfully singing, “It’s a Grand Old Flag.”

Volunteers from the town’s fire department and ambulance association, pictured below, walk to show their support. Members of the Lyme Corgi Club proudly march along with their dogs to celebrate. Various old-fashioned vehicles can be seen driving the parade route from Cove Road to the fairgrounds.

Photo by Katie Reid.

Any Lyme citizen of any age is welcome to walk, drive, scoot, bike, glide, fly, swim, hover, skip, slip-n-slide or march in the 0.4-mile parade to show their national and town spirit.

Along with the parade, Irving also created other celebratory July 4th traditions, some of which persist to this day. Second Selectman Parker Lord leads the ceremonial firing of the muskets to mark the beginning of the parade – a shot heard ‘round the town announcing the beginning of the procession.

The traditional firing of muskets signals the start of the Lyme Fourth of July Parade. Photo by Michele Dickey.

After the parade ends, the Lyme Parks and Recreation Department sponsors a barbeque at the Grange, where people from the town mingle and eat. This tradition has only begun within the past 10 years but has become a staple of the annual observance.

Dr. Irving, after each parade, would go to Cove Road Bridge and throw in tea bags in honor of the progress made since the colonists performed the historic act, which became known as the Boston Tea Party. This tradition is no longer observed; it stopped in 2015 when Dr. Irving passed away. A well-loved and much-missed member of the Lyme community, Dr. Irving’s memory lives on in the annual Cove Road parade.

About the Author: Sadie Frankel is a student at Lyme-Old Lyme High School where she is active in many school activities, including the theater, school newspaper, model UN and robotics program. She has been accepted to The School of the New York Times this summer for a journalism program.

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