An early snowfall left the ground white and slushy, but it was not enough to deter young and old from their appointed rounds in this year’s pre-Halloween Giant Puppet Parade on Sunday in Westville Village. The parade, sponsored by the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA), featured an array of giant puppets, costumes and creations, many of which were made in the WVRA-sponsored puppet-making workshops located in the vacant Anthony’s Barbershop on Fountain Street. Workshop leader and parade coordinator Muffy Pendergast worked with volunteers to facilitate the puppet creations at the site, but also dispensed advice to many who chose to make their creations at home.
After an evening of stormy weather that left a wake of downed tree limbs and power outages, Sunday’s bright sun and blue skies made for perfect parade weather that drew out over 100 marchers. WVRA Executive Director Chris Heitmann was out early shoveling sidewalks in preparation for the big event among his other duties. The Sunday brunchtime crowds that usually pack Westville’s premier restaurants had ringside seats as paraders marched up and down Whalley Avenue in the heart of the Village, occasionally stopping to collect candy from those businesses that were open. Trumpet player Tim Kane played Holloween-themed riffs while others accompanied with an assortment of drums, tamborines and noisemakers.
The parade ended at the CitySeed Farmers Market in Edgewood Park, where vendors were selling fruit, some veggies, breads and pastries. At the nearby gazebo, Westville historian and tour guide Colin Caplan regaled a small crowd of “Taste of New Haven” tour guests with Westville lore and history, in a scene this is becoming increasingly familiar to Westville residents.
As parade marchers and watchers enjoyed market goodies, many were already talking about their participation in next year’s parade. WVRA President Gabriel DaSilva talked about the possibility of extending next year’s festivities into more of a fall festival format, but it is the giant puppet parade that will remain the center attraction of this growing Westville tradition.