April 23, 2008

Valuable Relics coming to Bristol Parade!

Bristol, my home town, inventor of the 4th of July Parade, should have an interesting day this July: the Red Sox 2007 World Series trophy, and recently incarcerated ex-Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci will both be marching.

The Bristol Phoenix, on Buddy's history with the parade:

Mr. Cianci incurred the wrath of chief marshal Dr. Manuel Luciano DaSilva and town officials after he crashed the chief marshal's reception, which was being held under a tent at the Bristol County Medical Center. Mr. Cianci, who had just been elected mayor of Providence, had not been invited to attend. Despite being turned away, Mr. Cianci showed up anyway — via helicopter.

"Guests ... were less than delighted to see Cianci arrive; the downdraft from his helicopter props threw up billowing clouds of choking dust under the tent canopy," Mr. Simpson writes.

Five years later, in 1980, Mr. Cianci crashed the parade again, when he arrived at the Colt High School athletic fields via helicopter.

"They smuggled me in like the Trojan Horse," Mr. Cianci was said to have quipped later.

Other years include stories of Mr. Cianci falling off horses, being "un-invited" from the parade, and being called "rude" by the parade chairman. But one of his most storied connections to the parade and Bristol's residents will mark its 25th anniversary this year. For the last quarter century, one of Mr. Cianci's toughest stretches of the parade route has been 2 High St., the house owned by Raymond DeLeo. In 1983, shortly after being indicted for assaulting Mr. DeLeo over a rumored mutual romantic interest, Mr. Cianci defiantly marched by his house, pretending not to notice him. Over the coming years, guests in Mr. DeLeo's yard were known to turn their back when the mayor approached.

The rift ballooned in 2002, Mr. Cianci's last year marching, when guests in Mr. DeLeo's yard sang him an impromptu song in "honor" of his recent indictment on corruption charges that would eventually send him to prison for five years:

"For he's a RICO felon, for he's a RICO felon, for he's a RICO felon, which nobody can deny," they sang.

The last time Cianci marched (in 2002), shortly before being convicted of racketeering, he got a standing ovation. After his Napoleon-like exile, his return should be fairly amusing.

As for the trophy, that was arranged by Jeremy Kapstein, the guy who sits directly behind home plate at every game, and therefore has a position of influence with the team. He came down to Bristol for some seafood and had the misfortune of running into a parade official who managed to finagle it through "two or three months of e-mails, phone calls, back and forth letters and even a hastily arranged meeting among Mr. Kapstein and Fourth of July Committee officials in the parking lot of the Verizon store on Route 6." Nice.

[Some pictures from 2006, 2007]