Thousands Enjoy Barnum Festival Parade At Scenic Seaside Park

Herbert BarFest
Former Ringmaster Mickey Herbert, president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council salutes the crowd with statue of P.T. Barnum in background.

Thousands of beachgoers, residents and suburbanites lined Seaside Park on Sunday in scorching temperatures for the first-ever Barnum Festival Parade to march solely in the park named for the man who donated the waterfront gem to the city. For many spectators it was the first time they had ever seen the parade, exactly what organizers had anticipated when they reconfigured the annual event to showcase it on behalf of the man who is the single greatest contributor to Bridgeport’s history.

crowd BarFest
Spectators wave and cheer paraders on a blistering hot day.

Be it the park, housing, library system, first city hospital, ferry company and water company, it was Phineas Taylor Barnum who was at the forefront of industrial and philanthropic efforts in the 19th Century. The parade was part of Barnumpalooza, a day-long event that also included food vendors, music at the Seaside bandshell and evening fireworks.

Olson BarFest
Former City Councilman John Olson had the best seat in the house, perched under the P.T. Barnum statue with glorious views of Long Island Sound. “Why not? He gave us this park.”

As parade crowds had dwindled in recent years along the traditional parade route north on Park Avenue into Central High School, organizers had contemplated several ways to rebuild interest, reduce police overtime security costs and assimilate a cross section of city residents and suburbanites. Seaside Park on a July Sunday features thousands of people. It was decided to bring the parade, now in its 70th year, to the people.

mummers BarFest
Mummers always a spectacular parade showing.

It was fun watching sunbathers gather themselves from the morning sand on one of the finest waterfront parks in the country and collect their children to the roar of the parade. The thickest crowds assembled along the waterfront adjacent to the band shell and food vendors.

Vazzano BarFest
Float of 2018 Ringmaster Johnny Vazzano.

Plenty of free parking was available, within easy access of the park.

parade with water view
A parade along waterfront.
drum corps BarFest
Drum corps powered through the heat with a welcoming breeze.
pols at festival
Your host was mugged by pols marching in parade. From left State Senate GOP candidate Rich Deecken, former councilman Anthony Paoletto, State Rep. Steve Stafstrom, Attorney General candidate Bill Tong, your host, State Rep. Chris Rosario, State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago and City Council President Aidee Nieves. Don’t ya love blackmail photos?
family at parade
Parades are all about family. Photo: Vic Eng / Hearst Connecticut Media Group
shriners BarFest
And if it’s a parade, the Shriners. Photo: Vic Eng / Hearst Connecticut Media Group

More photos here.



  1. Ron Mackey // Jun 22, 2018 at 3:53 pm
    “Why was this parade route ever changed in the first place? In 2004 the Barnum Festival Ringmaster Peter F. Hurst changed the route of the parade to this route but then the following year it was changed in not going south into Seaside Park.”

    Well, it seems that Peter F. Hurst was a visionary concerning the route of this year parade to Seaside Park. I wonder what the real reason the parade route was change to end in the North End instead of the South End were the true history of PT Barnum is?

  2. *** Over all Lennie, how did it go as far as the crowds, traffic, accessability for first responders to get in or out in an emergency? *** Maybe the P.R parade should travel the same route aswell as all the Bpt. parades in the future to cut down city & parade organizers total costs? Parking areas, shuttle buses, vender permits, etc.. all at a cheap price. Using the PAL-cadets for parking attendants & working something out with the city’s AIC programs(Comm.Service) to help with the after the day clean-ups in general areas for all Spring & Summer city events. Also bring back the old 9-week summer jobs for city teens 14 to 17 yrs. old to help out with simple summer jobs throughout the city! ***


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