Floyd LeSane (foreground) showed that it wasn’t only energetic youngsters in drill teams who could go high-steppin’.
In white gloves and tassled fezzes, LeSane and his colleagues from New Haven Shriners’ Arabic Temple No. 40 were one of the crowd stoppers Sunday afternoon among more than 30 teams, bands, small businesses, and organizations participating in the 52nd annual Freddie Fixer Parade.
On a picture-perfect, sun-filled day, the state’s premier African-American parade drew several thousand spectators of all ages along Dixwell Avenue, including retired New Haven police detective Otha Buffaloe (pictured with his wife Sandra), who was in at the launch of the event in 1962.
Buffaloe said he’s been encouraged by increased participation the past two years, terming it a kind of come-back. He said families are participating more and more in what began as a neighborhood clean-up and over half a century has blossomed into an annual showcase of African-American pride and accomplishment.
Police spokesman David Hartman pronounced Sunday’s parade all “peace, love, and harmony” with not a single incident to report. “The parade went off without a hitch,” he said.
Click here for the Reg‘s Shahid Karim’s capsule history of the parade, which is the culmination of an entire weekend’s competitions and reunions; and here and here for previous Independent stories on the event.
New Haven’s Fusion Drill Team was the overall winner in the pre-parade “drill-o-rama” competition that took place at the Wexler-Grant School Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday, the enthusiastic crowds were four and five deep along Dixwell Avenue between Charles and Foote streets, requiring police officers to find novel ways to ask people to politely move back onto the sidewalk.
Officer Christian Bruckhart enlisted the help of 3-year-old Jazz Grant. “Step back,” called the young man, after Bruckhart empowered him with his cap.
“It’s one he’s going to remember,” said Jazz’s grandmother, Toni Davis, who works in early childhood education and lives on Dickerman Street.
The parade’s president for the last five years, Maurice Smith, said the drill teams continued to be among the biggest draws.
This year the parade committee revived a tradition of crowning parade royalty, who rode along in a shiny car and beamed even brighter smiles: parade Queen Diane Hare, Ms. Freddie Fixer Milani Glass, and in between them Prince Timothy Fields.