NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Thousands of spectators turned out Monday for the town's Labor Day Parade, capping months of organizing in the aftermath of a shooting rampage that killed 20 first-graders and six educators last December.
The Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co. and Sandy Hook Elementary School students received the loudest applause from spectators along the parade route.
"This is a great example of how the town comes together," parade organizer Beth Caldwell told WFSB-TV (http://bit.ly/14e8fO8 ). "The strength of the community really has shown today."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy, Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra and other officials participated in the 52nd annual parade.
Sandy Hook mother Courtney Schroeder said: "We just moved here a little over a year ago, and then everything happened. The way the community came together is just amazing."
Organizers were wary about a parade, a fixture in Newtown since the early 1960s, so soon after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A gunman who had shot his mother to death at their home went to the school and killed 26 people before killing himself as police arrived.
Early in the planning for the parade last winter, organizers settled on the slogan "We are Newtown, marching strong."
"It was a delicate balance, a delicate balance between an avenue of celebration and respect for the tragedy that happened in our town," Caldwell said.
The parade even drew out-of-towners.
"It's time to rally at one point, time to move on at one point and after an event like that it makes the whole community stronger," said Ox Gara, of Manchester, 60 miles east of Newtown. "Then a day like this just solidifies it."