If you're hanging out in Downtown Stamford this weekend, there's a good chance you could spot the rare and elusive Lorax, ala Dr. Seuss, roaming there as well. He shouldn't be hard to find, he'll be looming roughly forty feet above everyone else.
The UBS Parade Spectacular is just around the corner, with a party while the balloons get blown up on Saturday and the parade itself on Sunday. And while there's a whole lot of local involvement with the parade, Stamford Downtown Special Services District President Sandy Goldstein said she's heard of attendees coming form as far as Maryland and Massachusetts.
"We've got 18 colossal balloons, 12 bands, including one all the way from [Portland] Oregon, and five dance groups coming. We've also got BMX pros coming to both the inflation party and the parade to perform," said Goldstein. "Yes, we think it's going to be one of the most extraordinary events yet. We expect more than 200,000 people to come out."
The Lorax, Stamford's newest celerity in the lineup, did not come easy. The company holding the rights to The Lorax would only allow its attendance in the parade if Stamford could prove it was a "green city." In order to meet that criteria, Stamford officials signed off on taking the following measures to move Stamford closer to that goal:
- Stamford has become the largest electronics recycler in the state of Connecticut. 227 tons of electronics were recycled last year alone. Stamford's two recycling centers also collected 13 tons of clothing donations for Goodwill and Big Brother, Big Sister.
- 1499 LED streetlights have been installed throughout the city.
- The "One Bin, All In" initiative has increased recycling in the city by 70-percent.
- The "Plug Your Ride" program, new for 2012, provides electric vehicle charging stations at each of Stamford's four garages. Each of the garages are additionally powered by solar energy.
Betsy Louis, Director of Community Affairs for UBS pointed out the Lorax was always protecting the environment like trees and fish and Brown Barbaloots.
"And what would the world be without a Brown Barbaloot," Louis asked.
In spite of the rain, a small training exercise to give balloon handlers a chance to familiarize themselves with the newly-unveiled Lorax was well attended. Several dozen handlers who would be in the parade Sunday gave maneuvering the giant balloon a try and got first-hand experience with tricky situations like getting the balloons under low lines.
During the presentation and official unveiling of The Lorax, the parade Grand Marshal was announced—which turned out to be a whole panel of very important people who have given a lot to Stamford in the last couple of weeks. City workers and charitable organizations from around Stamford who had been working long hours restoring and repairing Stamford and it's citizens following Hurricane Sandy were all announced as the panel that would make up the "Grand Marshal" position this year.
The Grand Marshal title will be held this year by the following people from the following organizations:
- Doug Hoyt, Stamford Department of Operations
- Ron Markey, Stamford Department of Operations
- Phil A'mico, Stamford Department of Operations
- Chief William Smith, Stamford Fire Department
- Steve Gladstone, Stamford Volunteer Firefighters
- Patricia Squires, EMS
- Ron Miller, Stamford Health Department
- Frank Cassella, Red Cross
- Marcia Miller, Stamford CERT
Mayor Michael Pavia thanked all the members of the Grand Marshal team during an impromptu speech and said the event they would be overseeing is a staple to the city's rich holiday traditions.
"Through the work they've done and through their performance, they've made this day even more spectacular," Pavia said. "I can't think of the upcoming holiday without thinking of this tremendous event. I'm proud to be the mayor of a city where we continue to celebrate in the most dramatic way possible."
The balloon blow-up party begins Saturday evening