BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Huge crowds lined the streets of Bridgeport on Sunday afternoon, as the Barnum Festival held its family-themed Great Street Parade, featuring drum corps, drill teams, clowns, floats and giant balloons.
The parade's new route started at Park and Capital avenues, running south on Park Avenue to Seaside Park.
The Barnum Festival was founded in 1948 as a way to build community spirit as well as to honor Bridgeport’s most famous resident, Phineas Taylor Barnum – the world-renowned showman, businessman and community leader. P.T. Barnum was above all an entertainer who celebrated hoaxes and founded the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
The Barnum Festival celebrates this great showman with a celebration from mid-May through June. In true Barnum tradition, a ringmaster is appointed each year to entertain the crows, while also promoting the Greater Bridgeport region.
This year's ringmaster is Jason Julian of Monroe, a longtime Barnum Festival volunteer. His father, Andrew, serve as the festival’s leader 35 years ago.
“I remember the parade and the other events, and how much people enjoyed them,’’ Julian said. “I remember seeing how excited people were in the floats in the parade. I still see volunteers from when he was the Ringmaster, and they’re still volunteers. The relationships that develop from the Barnum Festival last a lifetime.”
The Great Street Parade is the culmination of the Barnum Festival. The final weekend of events also included Barnumpalooza, with food, drinks and music at Seaside Park; a Pops Concert at Seaside Park and fireworks at Seaside Park.