STAMFORD, Conn. - Stamford's Parade Spectacular will mark two decades of wowing crowds as it steps off at noon Sunday with 16 giant helium balloons to mark the start of the holiday season.
The parade goes on as planned whatever the weather - rain, snow, wind and cold temperatures won't stop the fun.
The parade will proceed through downtown Stamford, starting at Hoyt and Summer streets, and heading down Summer to Broad Street to Atlantic Street and ending at Federal Street. With all the street closures Sunday morning, follow this free parking guide www.stamford-downtown.com to know your way around. You'll want to claim at spot with the perfect view along the nearly 1-mile route, too.
The parade is Stamford's biggest single event of the year -- last year's drew an estimated crowd of 100,000, according to Stamford Downtown Special Services District.
"This parade is a joy to produce, and I hope that everyone who comes to see it has as much fun watching it as we at the DSSD have in putting it on," said Sandy Goldstein, president of the DSSD, which has produced the event since the start.
But it's not just about the fun. "There is a major, major economic impact," Goldstein said. "$2.5 million is spent here by those people who come to the parade."
Mayor-Elect David Martin also raved about the parade. "It has become a signature event for Stamford that everyone is proud of -- you see the kids gazing up at the balloons," Martin said. But "we have a humanistic side as well as an economic development side."
The show-stopping helium balloons set the parade apart from most across the country. Joining the old favorites such as Elmo, Big Bird, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Kermit and Popeye will be four new balloons - Smurf, Babar and Badou the elephants, and Foofa and Plex from the show "Yo Gabba Gabba!"
Alan Kalter from the Late Show With David Letterman will return for his 10th year as the parade's master of ceremonies at the grand stand. He will be joined New York Knicks Assistant General Manager and NBA legend Allan Houston as the grand marshal.
The cast of Stamford's All-School Musical, "Shrek," will perform along side more than 1,000 musicians from award-winning marching bands.
Hundreds of volunteers help out as clowns, parade marshals and even holding the ropes that keep the balloons from floating away.
If you can't wait to see the balloons, check out the Balloon Inflation Party from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday Nov. 23 at Hoyt and Summer streets. The balloons will slowly come to life before your eyes as they are inflated with helium. (Don't worry that they will fly off -- the balloons are weighted down with hundreds of sandbags overnight until the volunteer balloon wranglers take over). Attendees will also get a preview of the Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team who will be performing in this year's parade. For more details on the Saturday event, check out this story in The Daily Voice.