Sen. Linares Honors Clinton on Town’s 350th Birthday [Shoreline Times]

September 10, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Shoreline Times

By Evan Lips
Special to the Times

CLINTON – It was one community’s 350th birthday but the rest of the state decided to crash the party.

Yet ask anyone lining Clinton’s East Main Street for Saturday morning’s blowout parade and they’ll tell you — everyone made the town’s invite list.

“My whole family now lives here,” said Steven Ortiz, 28, as he cradled his 2 1/2-year-old son Maxx in his arms.

Ortiz and his mother, Carmen, moved to Clinton about 17 years ago. They had lived in Guilford and before arriving stateside from Puerto Rico over 30 years ago, Harrisburg, Pa.

“This is home for us and it will always be home for us,” said Carmen as Maxx waved an American flag at the endless line of fife-and-drum corps, pipe bands, fire trucks and antique cars. “It’s the kind of place where everyone feels welcome.”

What began as an overcast day brightened up considerably just after the parade made its way across the Indian River, much to the delight of designated parade emcee Gil Simmons. Simmons, meteorologist for WTNH News 8, held the microphone and had guaranteed there would be no raindrops.

Groups from all over the state convened in Clinton, led in the parade by the 2nd Company Governor’s Foot Guard out of Branford and followed by more than 100 different units like the Mystic Highland Pipe Band, Chester Fife and Drum Corps and Westbrook’s Junior Colonial Fife and Drum Corps.

The parade exuded vibes of patriotism as some of the loudest cheers were saved for the marching veterans groups.

Clinton, settled in 1663, was first known as Homonoscitt Plantation, then as Kenilworth and later Killingworth. It broke away from Killingworth and established its own incorporation in 1838, naming itself Clinton after then-New York Gov. DeWitt Clinton.

The town’s listed population of 13,500 likely doubled on Saturday and most gathered along the Indian River near Town Hall to sample area food and take in some live music following the hour-long parade.

Members of the Clinton 350 Celebration Committee put in roughly 18 months of work to plan the weekend celebration. Parade Chairman Salvatore “Sal” Chiaramonte was present for the town’s 300th birthday celebration and joked that he’d “officially like to invite you to the 400th, I’ll be there.”

State Rep. Tom Vicino, D-Clinton, appeared at the celebration podium and said the event “shows the true pride of Clinton.”

He read a proclamation awarding the town a citation from the state General Assembly “in recognition of the town of Clinton’s over three centuries of rich history.”

“This is what makes Clinton a desirable community,” he added.

State Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, thanked volunteers and read a letter honoring Clinton on behalf of Gov. Malloy.

“The contributions of Clinton to the Connecticut community over the past 350 years have been numerous,” Malloy’s statement read.

Clinton also received national recognition, as Selectman Lynn Pinder showed attendees a framed congratulatory letter signed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

The celebration will continue through Sunday as build-a-boat contests and even a dock-side, dog-diving competition will take place. For more information, visit Evan Lips at 203-789-5727.