BRISTOL - The third annual Main Street USA celebration drew a large crowd to Walnut Hill Park Saturday to enjoy its wide array of entertainment, activities and vendors.
The celebration, which once was held on Main Street, was brought back three years ago and is now held at Walnut Hill Park.
The city has an eye toward bringing it home to Main Street after major downtown renovations are complete.
Holding the event at the park means more space for games, vendors, activities “and other things like the helicopter rides,” said Ashley Santana, assistant program coordinator for the New Britain Parks, Recreation & Community Service Department, as busloads of people shuttled into the park.
Mayor Erin Stewart arrived in a helicopter that picked her up from one of the sports fields at Central Connecticut State University.
New attractions this year were a 45-foot Ferris wheel and a fun slide, Santana said.
Three stages, including the community stage, the Darius Miller Memorial Band Shell and one in the Kids Zone, hosted a wide variety of musical entertainment, including the soul/R&B group Shaded Soul, the classic rock band Last Licks and The Zoo, a Top 40 cover band.
“We are really happy to be able to put on such a great, community event,” Santana said.
While the public enjoyed fried dough, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, loaded baked potatoes and much more to eat, many children found their way to the Kids Zone, which was on the grass at the bottom of the hill in the park.
The Kids Zone was bigger this year than in years past, said Erik Barbieri, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation & Community Service Department. He said that many more kid-friendly activities and entertainment were organized this year.
In the Kids Zone was the Melendez family, who have attended the event for the past three years. As Annette Melendez waited for her son to finish a ride, she said he had spent the whole afternoon in the Kids Zone and that they were “very excited” about seeing the fireworks around 9 p.m..
Last year, over 11,000 people attended, Barbieri said. He said, “We are hoping for more people this year.”
“As a city, celebrating is a fun, great time. It’s a community celebration,” Barbieri said. “With all the vendors and community organizations here, it’s a great way for people in the city to see a lot of what is happening in the city, while enjoying the food and activities.”
Santana added, “We start planning for next year’s event right after this one finishes. We will meet in about a month and see what we could have done better and what worked well for next year.”
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 860-973-5088.