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WILLIMANTIC, Conn.- The town’s annual Independence Day parade once again will include the traditional Little League teams, floats sponsored by local businesses, fire trucks and politicians. But, for the 30th consecutive year, there will be no marching bands.
In what has become an offbeat tradition, the participants and the spectators will instead be carrying radios tuned to the same local station, which will provide traditional marching music. More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the town’s annual Boom Box Parade, which kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“I didn’t think the idea would work,” said Wayne Norman, the WILI-AM radio personality who has served as grand marshal for all 30 parades. “I didn’t think people would get the concept. Boy was I wrong.”
The parade dates to 1986, when the town couldn’t find an available marching band for its Memorial Day parade. Organizer Kathy Clark approached the radio station for help. Station officials said it was too late to organize and publicize for that holiday, but they began planning with Clark for July Fourth, and the tradition was born.
Norman said the staging area was empty two hours before the parade but by the time it was ready to start more than 2,000 people were there, all carrying boom boxes.
Norman said there were some evolutionary pains as the portable radios, ubiquitous in the 1980s, went the way of the cassette tape and were replaced by iPods and other portable electronic devices.
He said any radio or device with a speaker and a way to access the radio station is welcome. “We ask people to please not wear headphones,” he said. “We don’t outlaw them, but it kind of defeats the purpose.”
The parade, he said, celebrates independence in all its connotations. There is no registration to march. Anyone can participate, and people are free to bring signs, promote causes, even advertise for their businesses.
Norman said that in an ironic twist the Windham High School band, which was not around to march in 1986, this year provided a recorded piece that will be played during the parade.
A lot of groups just have fun with the event. That would include the Traveling Fish Head Club of Northeastern Connecticut, which Norman said walks up from the nearby Hop River to join the parade disguised as a giant fish made from wood, wire and papier-mache. “We don’t have many rules,” Norman said. “We just ask people to wear red, white and blue and bring a flag and a radio.”
Members of the state legislature and Congress and the governor often march in the parade, though Norman said they usually get a bigger turnout of politicians during an election year.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal shows up every year. He said he loves the parade because it has a spirit that is quintessentially American. “It’s good old Connecticut ingenuity,” he said. “Let’s use boom boxes if we can’t have a band. Let’s make do. Let’s invent. Our ingenuity will make it happen.”
SALMON, Idaho- It is not easy being a vampire, and even harder to come out of the coffin to a physician or therapist for fear they will misinterpret the habit of ingesting the blood of willing donors or succumb to stereotyping, a study finds.
Research led by D.J. Williams, director of social work at Idaho State University, indicated that people who identify themselves as “real” vampires – that is, needing others’ blood to gain energy – would not disclose their practices to those in the helping professions and risk reactions like ridicule, disgust and possible diagnosis of a mental illness.
The paper, published in the latest issue of Critical Social Work, a peer-reviewed journal based in Canada, found that authentic vampires as opposed to “lifestyle” vampires – black-clad figures with phony fangs – might be stereotyped by clinicians whose fields discourage biases.
Williams, who has studied self-identified vampires for nearly a decade, finds they come from every walk of life and profession, including doctors, attorneys and candlestick makers.
“They are successful, ordinary people,” he said. Except they are very, very tired. That’s apparently the chief reason they find a consenting adult willing to allow them to use a scalpel to make a tiny incision in the chest area so they can ingest a small amount of blood for energy, the study found.
Williams and another researcher based the paper on the responses of 11 people who had identified themselves as vampires for many years and could be relied on to be open and honest, and who gain permission from practicing adults before ingesting their blood, he said.
“The real vampire community seems to be a conscientious and ethical one,” Williams said. The challenge is finding non-judgmental clinicians to whom vampires can disclose their alternative lifestyles, he added. “Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don’t choose this,” Williams said.
The global vampire population is thought to number in the thousands, he said.
ARNOLDS PARK, IA- Appearing at a campaign event in the early primary state, real estate mogul and presidential candidate Donald Trump told an assembled group of dairy farmers Monday that his cows were 500 times bigger than theirs.
“Your cows are small and scrawny, and you should be embarrassed to milk them,” said Trump, adding that each of his cows was the size of “at least” a dozen Cadillacs and had “udders that’ll make your head spin.” “No one raises dairy cows as gigantic or successful as I do; everyone knows that. My cattle are winners, and you people would be lucky to have them graze here.”
Chatting with patrons at a diner later in the day, Trump reportedly said the apple pie was a disgrace and that his pies were a mile wide, with a perfect crust that made all the losers jealous.