WALLINGFORD – Wallingford’s 350th + 2 Jubilee Parade will be led by Chris Ulbrich, who was chosen to be the procession’s Grand Marshal on Wednesday.
“I’m honored you know the town of Wallingford has been a great community for our business and I’ve lived here for a while and we’re going to be 100 in 2024,” said Ulbrich, who is CEO. Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals.
As parade marshal, Ulbrich will be at the front of the procession alongside the honor guard and vanguard, leading the approximately 2,000 marchers expected to complete the two-mile route. Ulbrich hinted that there will be a fun international surprise guest alongside him aboard the company float.
Beginning at 1:30 p.m. on June 18, the parade will begin at Moses Y. Beach Elementary School, travel down Center and South Elm streets and end at Lyman Hall High School.
Parade committee chairman Jonathan Judd said about 125 organizations are taking part in the parade, which is expected to last a few hours.
Coming out of the pandemic, Ulbrich said the parade will be a time for the town to bond, “350 years is a rare event and Wallingford is a great town and it’s always good to celebrate good things. We are surrounded by so many difficult things, so let’s celebrate some positive things once in a while.
Jubilee Committee co-chair Christine Mansfield said the company was among the first organizations in the city to offer support, both in terms of volunteers and donations. Chris Ulbrich is one of the committee members.
“Their mission is to serve and help the community and that has never been more evident than with the parade. Seven years ago, when the mayor first formed the planning committee for this, they were one of the first … (to) not only step in, but also get funding,” Mansfield said. “…It’s so fitting in the minds of Fred Ulbrich and the family (for Chris Ulbrich) to be the field marshal is such a testament to the legacy.”
Given that jubilees are held once every 25 or 50 years and with the city’s tradition of large-scale parades, Mansfield says being named grand marshal is a major recognition.
“It’s a ceremonial role, but it’s a distinction to lead the parade and all the units behind it,” she said.
Bob Devaney, who co-chairs the Jubilee Committee with Mansfield, said Ulbrich was the perfect choice to be the parade grand marshal because of his support for the Jubilee and the company’s broader engagement with the community.
“Chris Ulbrich and his whole family have done many things for Wallingford over the years, especially with the (Ulbrich) Boys and Girls Club,” he said.
Before the parade began, Judd said there would be two bands playing, one at the intersection of South Main Street and Center Street and a second at Doolittle Park. Beginning around 3 p.m., some of the notable participating vehicles will be on display, including a Back to the Future Delorean bus and Peter Pan ‘Future Liner’ which was displayed at the 1939 World’s Fair.
It was a goal for parade organizers to balance incorporating traditions that have marked past jubilees in the town, while finding opportunities to show the growth Wallingford has seen, Mansfield said.
“It’s such a tradition for Wallingford Jubilees to have a parade of this magnitude and it was important for the committee to keep some of those traditions…you’ll see a lot of similarities and you’ll also see some new features and I think that it is proof of the committee’s dedication to honoring the past but also…the diversity and growth the city has experienced over the past 350 years,” she said.
Just over a week away from the parade, she said she was delighted to see the culmination of all the hard work volunteers have put into the parade and the jubilee since planning began seven years ago.
“I think for me, the emotion is not just for the community that’s going to be able to cheer and celebrate,” she said, “but the manifestation of hundreds or thousands of hours.”
Journalist Devin Leith Yessian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.