WILTON, Conn. — In a scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, the residents of Wilton's Nod Hill Road gathered together Saturday afternoon for the neighborhood's annual 4th of July parade.
Residents embraced the spirit of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland's "Let's put on a show" as homemade floats and impromptu bands formed along the residential street.
Families congregated at the ends of driveways to wave to neighborhoods, collect handouts of "Find Your Park" flags from volunteers at Weir Farm National Historic site and applaud the efforts of float-builders and wagon-pullers alike.
One family put together a float commemorating the voyage of the Mayflower, complete with a sea of pint-size passengers. Another family filled a wagon with red, white and blue paintings by the kids.
A group of musicians walked the parade route playing instruments and singing classic American folk songs, including "This Land Is Your Land."
The marchers and spectators alike had to watch their step — the curvy, residential road wasn't even closed to traffic for the homegrown event, which is just for neighbors of the close-knit street and surrounding area.
Every group walking had a number — but it was the kind of parade where the groups did not walk in numerical order. At the end of the parade route, which was just a few houses in length, each group stopped to perform a skit, sing a song or recite facts for a panel of judges.
The star of the show came at the end: Resident Bruce Beebe, dressed in full patriot gear with tricorne hat, 13-star flag and a name tag reading "Patriot." In his performance for the judges, Beebe read a soliloquy wrapped in a mystery. He read clues to his unknown Patriot identity: He is an African-American slave who served as a spy in the Revolutionary War, reporting on the activities of Benedict Arnold and then Lord Cornwallis to the rebels.
In 1824, when the Marquis de Lafayette returned to the United States toured all 24 states, he spotted this mystery Patriot in a crowd, abruptly stopped his carriage and rushed to embrace him.
Who was this mystery patriot? If you guessed James Armistead you know your Revolutionary War history ... or maybe you were at the end of the parade route, too.
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