Middletown parade future remains in doubt

MIDDLETOWN – Proposed permit guidelines would violate federal law, Mayor Kenneth L. Branner Jr. announced, and the future of the traditional Hummers Parade remained uncertain after Monday night’s town council meeting.

A citizen’s committee’s recommendations for all parades in town didn’t pass constitutional muster regarding freedom of speech, Middletown’s solicitor determined. The decision to table the matter was thus approved by council at the end of the regularly scheduled gathering.

Further public discussion is scheduled during a 7 p.m. meeting on Dec. 18 at town hall. Mayor Branner said he expects some form of guidelines for permits to be approved that night.

Controversy erupted after a float in the last parade on New Year’s Day 2019 depicted a supposedly caged migrant child and adult in soiled underwear held at a detention center near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The trailer also included a “We’ll Build This Wall” poster and a “Fiesta” sign illustrated with sombreros.

Council then formed a committee to form guidelines for parades within town limits moving forward.

On its official site, the town describes the gathering this way:

“The Hummers Parade, a Middletown tradition on New Year’s Day for more than 30 years, is not sponsored by the Town, or any Middletown organization, and is haphazardly thrown together on the day of the event by local residents.

“Anyone may join in the fun on Jan. 1 around noon, and line up in the vicinity of 100 S. Cass Street.

“The idea of the parade is to spoof events that happened in the previous year …”

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