Students Flip Switch Back On for Light Parade

A look into ELHS students who participated in the returning Niantic Light Parade

MEGHANA GOGATE

The Niantic Light Parade has been a beloved Southeastern Connecticut tradition for more than 30 years. Last year, due to COVID-19, the annual tradition was modified, but was able to commence as normal this winter. Two groups of students, Studio 22 dancers and the ELHS crew team, had floats in the parade this year after a stagnant parade last year.

“The parade has grown in popularity over the years, as thousands of people come to see it,” said girls’ crew coach Scott Mahon. “It’s a good time to gather as a team and promote our program and fundraisers.”

The Light Parade is exciting for all locals, as teams sport creative ideas about decorating the trailers. The crew trailer had oars, Christmas lights, and inflatables creating a festive mood for the holidays according to senior team captain Tommy McGrath. Many of the rowers’ families donated lights and candy canes for the parade. From getting the candy tossed out to kids in the parade to riding in their trailer with their team, these students continue the unique holiday tradition.

Studio 22 members had interesting ideas for their float this year.

“The theme was reindeer with blue lights with our Studio 22 sign that we bring to community celebrations. My favorite part about performing in the parade is seeing the work everyone has put in,” said dancer and senior Sophia Cambi.

Compared to 2020, the light parade this year looked very different.

“During the pandemic, we held the parade at McCook’s and spectators looked at the floats through their vehicles,” said Parks and Recreation member Robin Granderi. Though this modified event was still a celebration in 2020, it was a bigger celebration when the parade returned home.

“We are excited to be moving the parade back to Main Street after having a drive- through event at McCook’s. We had 40 floats registered and different food vendors that participated,” said Mr. Granderi.

Even with COVID-19 precautions, students were looking forward to the parade.

“I am excited to toss out candy and I’m hoping it will be pretty fun. I also want to get some publicity for the crew team,” said McGrath before the parade.

Studio 22 members were also excited as the parade showcased their talents.

“I loved the light parade because I liked to see the community together and show them what we do,” said Cambi.

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