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Thursday, March 22 News

Less than perfect weather doesn't stop annual parade

By scooter, wagon and bike, the spirit of '76 marched through Darien Friday morning in celebration of the nation's 238th birthday.

The 10th annual Push-n-Pull Parade featured thousands of celebrants, who assembled at Goodwives Shopping Center in their finest Independence Day regalia.

"It started 10 years ago with a couple of people that are still helping today," said Deb Papaeconomou, a member of the board of directors of the YWCA of Darien/Norwalk, which organized the event.

"In my opinion, this is the coolest thing that we can do for our community," she said, noting that last year's parade drew 3,000 marchers, with a smaller crowd expected this year because of the weather.

Fortunately the rain held off until the last minute this year; participants got a minor sprinkling as they headed off on Old Kings Highway, but no one seemed to mind.

Pedaling scooters, pulling wagons, riding bikes and trikes, the assembly followed the lead fire engine and Uncle Sam himself as it wound its way out to Tilley Pond Park.

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"We're so excited for it," said Kim Kennedy of Darien. "This is our first one, so we went all out."

In fact, her daughter Emma, 6, was the winner for the best decorated scooter and received the honor of being at the front of the procession, along with several other kids.

"It's something new this year we thought we'd throw in for our 10th year," Papaeconomou said of the decorating contests that preceded the event. Other winners included Charlotte Dluzyn for the best decorated tricycle, Michael Gomez for the best decorated bicycle, Xander Allen for the best decorated wagon, Schuyler Flood for best float, and the Sami family for the most patriotic ensemble.

"It's such a wonderful joy to celebrate 10 years," said State Rep. Terrie Wood (R-Darien), who read an official proclamation honoring both the parade and the YWCA.

"It's our first time here," said Arthur Allen of Darien. "I think it's great because it shows community spirit and it's great to get everyone out here on the Fourth of July."

"I think it's a lot of fun," said Brett McKeone of Darien. "It's great to be out as a family."

"It's an event focused on young children," said Katherine Samy, who co-chaired the event.

"And it's just so cute, the Americana," she said. "It's very cute ... And it's nice to see the people you know."

Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.