Fireworks Launched in Harbor
First Rainy Fourth in 14 Years
Patriotic Exercises Forced Indoors
Anything That Floats Contest Revived
For decades the practice of reserving favorite parade viewing spots along the procession’s route was tolerated; property owners whose houses border the street's grassy shoulders bore the burden. Over the past three or four years the practice has gotten out of hand. Squatters trooped into town by the hundreds on the Second and Third of July; they staked out claims to “plantation-sized” plots of town and state owned land.
When Bristolians came from the outlying neighborhoods, they found almost every foot of close-up viewing space was reserved and occupied by chairs, blankets, and children posted as guards. Even people living on the parade route found themselves corralled from the sidewalks in front of their homes.
Hope Street residents requested that the Town Council take action. The Council wisely recognized that the land from sidewalk to curb is common ground, and belongs to everyone. So, a ban on ropes, chairs, and blankets on town property before 5 o’clock on the morning of the Fourth went into effect. Police and highway department workers confiscated any such items sighted before the approved 5 o’clock land rush.
Santo “Sam” Mascena Chosen Chief Marshal
When Sam Mascena, the Pizza Man, was asked in February to act as the 1992 Chief Marshal, he said it took a while for the reality to sink in, and it took longer for him to make the decision to accept.
Mr. Mascena, owner of Sam’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, on east Bradford Street, is a Bristol native born in 1922; he graduated from Colt Memorial High School in 1941, and joined the US Navy in 1942. It was while in the service that he learned his culinary skills; now semi-retired his sons run the restaurant. “But I work for them,” he said, “I still come in and keep my hands in the dough, so to speak.”
The announcement of Sam for the Chief Marshal’s post by Chairman Roger Dubord was met with rousing applause from Committee members. The Committee unanimously approved Dubord’s decision. Sam’s appointment received praise as the least political selection of the past two decades.
Exercises Forced Indoors
For the first time since 1978, contingency plans for the Patriotic Exercises swung into place. The auditorium of the Colt Memorial School was full to overflowing with citizens and friends who had gathered earlier outdoors. The persistent drizzle and on-again, off-again showers forced all the participants indoors.
Senator John Chafee commented on the beauty of the room. He said, although he had been in the building often, this was the first time he had been in the auditorium.
Principal Speaker, Mario A. Mancieri, delivered what many said was the most stirring speech in recent memory. It earned him a standing ovation.
He began his oratory on a personal note; he recalled his days as a student at Colt; “Standing here, I recall Miss Bradford trying to encourage me and other classmates to become involved in the Voice of Democracy Contest. She persisted and gave us all encouragement. We were young and unresponsive. We lacked the self-confidence and belief in our abilities even to consider writing the requested essay, let alone recite something in public. She continued to have faith and hope in us as individuals and continued to encourage us to strive for excellence. She never gave up.
“This morning, as I speak about American Democracy, I hope to pass along the faith and hope that she, Miss Horton, Mr. Burke, Miss Marino, Mrs. Donovan, and many other wonderful men and women who were our teachers, had in me and my generation while we were growing up and struggling to seek our own identity. America is also growing up, and she also needs citizens who have faith and hope in her ability to re- identify herself with the ideals and principles on which she was founded.”
At the Exercises, Sam Mascena took the opportunity to introduce and thank his family. He also had some fun while doing it; he read from notes as he addressed the crowd, “I’d like to introduce my wife,” he turned the page and then said, “Marjorie.”
Though the dreary weather thinned this year’s crowd, there were still plenty of die-hard faithful on hand. Overall, thanks to Gina Campbell and her Committee, the parade presented a good show, with 40 marching bands, 37 floats, and the usual array of politicians, who for the most part were warmly received by the crowd. There were only a few gestures of dissatisfaction directed at Governor Bruce Sundlun.
The parade proceeded at a good clip with few gaps and finished relatively early in the afternoon. After scanning the sidewalks around her, police officer Diane Gibree said, “Compared to last year, there’s no one here.” Police estimated the crowd to be 100,000 people; about half that of recent past parades.
Despite the constant drizzle, the Chief Marshal and his wife seemed to be enjoying the parade more than anyone. They marched about half the route before their special car caught them. Along the entire route well-wishers clapped and cheered for the man who brought “family” back to the parade and celebration.
At the end of the Chief Marshal’s Division, Mascena’s family and friends rode in a float festooned with a large pizza. It was a fitting theme for the man whose pizzeria was voted the best in town. The float was kept a secret right up until parade time.
At his reception on the East Lawn of Linden Place, the Mascenas were still reeling, “Its been fabulous, like a great big family outing.” For over two-hours they received an endless line of family, friends, and admirers.
While at the Chief Marshal’s Reception, the author spoke with Sam the Tailor who operates a tailoring and dry cleaning business on High Street. He said he often receives calls for Sam’s Pizzeria; when he takes an order he asks, “...so wuda-ya want on it, zippers or buttons?”
Lesbians and Gays
In the days before the parade, the Committee received more than its share of lamb-basting and well-orchestrated rash of letters and telephone calls about the handling of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance float. Scarcely a radio talk show or newspaper story didn’t include something concerning “... this year’s parade not being without controversy....” The float met with jeers and boos and a few eggs tossed by a gang of boorish redneck hecklers, motorcycle toughs at Silver Creek Bridge; otherwise, the passing of the float was a non-event.
Drum Corps and Bands
Receiving particularly warm applause was the Bristol High School Marching Band in their distinctive green and white uniforms with the rearing Colt on their tunics. Because of the Bristol/Warren school rationalization, it remains to be seen if this will be the last year for the band as it is now organized.
The drizzle did little to dampen the enthusiasm or precision of some of the crack corps and units in the parade. The Connecticut Hurricanes corps thrilled viewers with their rousing rendition of their trademark Marlboro Man Theme, and the Litchfield High School Band from Minnesota and Bristol’s Generations Senior Marching Band were greeted by particularly loud applause.
“The drum corps and bands have really made the parade special,” said Committee Chair Roger Dubord. “Those kids all fall in love with Bristol, which is great public relations boost for us. I think it will continue to grow.”
Highlights and Sidelights
Hattie Brown Award: Town Crier Anthony Marino received the Hattie Brown Award from Committee members at his home. A member of the Fourth of July Committee since 1956, Tony served as parade division coordinator, division marshal, and honorary chairman. As town crier for the 1990 and 1991 parades, he donned a colorful Colonial costume to ring in the major events and to lead off the parade. Tony died shortly after the award presentation, after a six-month bout with cancer.
The Chief Marshal’s Association is an organization of all former Chief Marshals and Chairs of the Celebration Committee. At their annual luncheon in the Linden Place ballroom, association President Joan Roth invested the 1992 Chief Marshal with the presentation of his special medallion. The medallion, worn around the neck, suspended by a red, white, and blue ribbon, has an image of the town seal on the face, and on the obverse is the recipient’s name, his office, and the date.
For the first time, all who served as general chair of the Fourth of July Committee were presented with their own medallion, designed by Bristol artist Paula Digati. Roger Dubord, Jr., the 1992 Chairman was the first to receive the new medallion.
Then, beginning with the most senior chairman, the medallions were presented to Roswell S. Bosworth, Sr., Roswell S. Bosworth, Jr., James J. Velleca, John R. Partington, Joseph Andrade, Joseph Caromile, Frank Perry, Manuel Pasquel, James W. Farley, Jr., and Elizabeth Ann Holmes Moreira.
The Fourth of July Ball, the premier social activity in Bristol’s round of public events was as usual a sell out. The gala event at Richard Alegera’s King Philip Inn on Metacom Avenue at the top of Bay View Avenue, featured dancing to a 15-piece orchestra and dining to what was said to have been a “scrumptious” dinner
Souvenirs: for the most part the spirit of the Fourth of July Celebration is the flood of ideas and activities pouring out of the body of the Bristol population. Once again the Committee took to the streets hawking a variety of souvenirs¾some useful, others frivolous¾but all eagerly snapped up. Numerous stands and counters were constructed at the many Committee functions and in legitimate retail outlets around town. Available were: a special Christmas ornament, sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats, cups, and the special souvenir button designed by Jennifer Lynn Tavares, a Bristol High School freshman. The T-shirt design, by Robert Donato, depicts a Narragansett Bay sunset and the American flag.
For the third year the local post office offered a souvenir collectable: a special Fourth of July postal cover franked and canceled with a special Bristol Fourth of July cancellation. The local post office also offered a special limited edition print signed, dated, and numbered by the artist. The print was franked with a flag postage stamp canceled with the special Fourth of July cancellation.
 A homosexual organization in which one of the principal activists was the daughter of US Senator Claiborne Pell