Laurel Parade and Pet Parade to merge

Winsted Town Seal
Winsted Town Seal

WINSTED — This year, the town’s Pet Parade and Laurel Parade will be held on the same day: Saturday, May 16 at 2 p.m.
Both parades are long-running traditions in Winsted.
The 84th annual Pet Parade is organized by the Torrington-Winsted Area Rotary Club and typically includes 12 divisions including small floats and wagons, famous people, animated characters, rollerblades and skateboards, horses and ponies, and floats.
In the past, pets at the parade have included dogs, cats, birds, turtles, cows, pigs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and frogs.
As for the 86th annual Laurel Parade includes Laurel King and Queen contestants riding down Main Street in exquisitely designed cars driven by representatives of local sponsors.
The Laurel Parade is organized by The Laurel Commission.
The annual Laurel Festival itself will still be held in June, with the Laurel Ball held on Saturday, June 6 at East End Park and the crowning of the Laurel King and Queen held during the town’s Family Fun Day at Rowley Field on Sunday, June 7.
According to Laurel Commission member and Selectman Melissa Bird, the merger was made for multiple reasons.
“Both parades have the same purpose which is celebrating the region’s young people,” Bird said in an interview with The Winsted Phoenix “One part of it is that it is hard for both parades to be sustained separately. Another part of it is that there is decreasing volunteers for these parades. The Laurel Commission has only four members right now and it is very hard to run things in such small numbers.”
Bird said that attendance for both parades has been down for the past few years.
“Also, having the roads close down for the parades are huge expenses to the town.,” Bird said.
“By merging both parades, we can save money and help each other while remaining viable and sustainable. I think we will have an amazing parade this year. We’re not just going to be a division in the Pet Parade. We’re merging the two parades fully.”
Bird added that both the Laurel Commission and the Torrington-Winsted Area Rotary Club are working hard to keep both parades alive.
As for the Laurel King and Queen contest: this year six scholarships are being offered at prizes this year totaling $6,000.
Candidates must be enrolled either in the 11th or 12th grade and reside in Winsted. They also must be a student at one of the local high schools or be homeschooled.
Laurel candidate registration packets can be downloaded from the town’s website. The packets are also available at The Gilbert School’s main office or the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall.
There will be an informational session for Laurel Festival candidates at Town Hall on Sunday, March 8 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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