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Paused for now, New Haven’s Freddy Fixer Parade hopes to be back in 2023

Marchers take to the street in the Freddy Fixer Parade in 2019, the last time the parade was able to happen. Organizers hope for a return in 2023.
Photo Courtesy Elm City Freddy Fixer Parade Committee Inc.
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Marchers take to the street in the Freddy Fixer Parade in 2019, the last time the parade was able to happen. Organizers hope for a return in 2023.

COVID has kept New Haven’s Freddy Fixer Parade off the streets since 2019. And, for a third year in a row, there won’t be a parade this June. But this year, COVID isn’t the issue.

It’s the money.

“Our community was hurting at the time, we were impacted greatly by COVID,” said Chanelle Goldson, the president of the Elm City Freddy Fixer Parade Committee. She said that raising funds from the community hasn’t been as important as serving it during the pandemic. “So we were reaching out and trying to help, versus saying, ‘Hey, we need funds from you.’”

But while there won’t be a parade on the first Sunday in June, Goldson says she’s looking toward next year, thanks to $12,000 in federal money from Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

“That $12,000 grant is significant,” she said. “It also helps not only for the parade, but if we want to use a little bit of those funds to help for those care packages and help our community members who may be in need.”

The Freddy Fixer parade has been a source of pride in New Haven’s Black community since 1962, Goldson said. It began as a neighborhood improvement effort -- health and wellness, education, beautification -- that culminated each year with the parade named after one of its founders, Dr. Frederick Smith. It’s since grown to have dozens of drill teams, dance groups, marching bands and other revelers from across the region each year.

But the pandemic posed a serious threat to arts and cultural organizations, stopping public events and pausing traditional fundraisers. And though the nation has slowly reopened, even as COVID positivity rates climb again, organizations like Goldson’s are still feeling the financial hangover that has come with two years of dormancy.

Now, though, there is some reason for optimism. The parade committee is one of more than three dozen cultural organizations getting money made available through the federal American Rescue Plan, via the arts council. The council applied for and got $500,000 from the federal government. And it’s distributing $255,000 to organizations in and around New Haven to help sustain business as the pandemic drags on.

The grant for the Freddy Fixer organization will support the community, possibly help pay for police overtime and get the parade back on the street, Goldson said. And planning for next year is already underway.

“We’re already ready to put in the permit,” Goldson said.

The date -- June 4, 2023.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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