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Bristol Prepares For 56th Annual Mum Festival

For the second year since the Chamber of Commerce took it over, the Mum Festival is back for a four-day run later this month.

The popular citywide festival once again will feature one of central Connecticut's biggest parades, organizers say.

There will a carnival, food trucks, children's games, a car show, live music, fireworks, pony rides and more from Sept. 21 to 24.

The Mum Festival, by far the city's biggest annual celebration, is marking its 56th year. But there was a time just a few years ago when volunteers and donations had fallen off, leaving organizers to question whether the tradition could continue.

The Chamber of Commerce, the Bristol Exchange Club, city government and a group of volunteers worked last year to adjust the format and get the festival on a solid foundation.

This year, they're planning four days of activities but with a few new twists. Perhaps the biggest is the parade route: Marchers won't go as far into the West End as they did in earlier years, but they'll go farther east and return on Memorial Boulevard.

The new routes allows for an expanded festival, gives larger marching bands a bigger turn radius and provides a safer pedestrian crossing, said Mickey Goldwasser, an organizer.

The parade draws thousands of viewers every year and brings in many marching bands along with the traditional civic organizations, floats, school teams and others. The parade steps off at Race and West Streets on Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m.; this year's theme is "Home is Where the Heart Is."

The first festival activity is just over a week away: The Miss Chrysanthemum Pageant is set for Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Chippens Hill Middle School. Full details are at http://tinyurl.com/y7mh7o7r.

The festival itself begins Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. downtown at the Memorial Boulevard School. At various points between then and the evening of Sept. 24, the festival will offer an art gala, an "adult beverage garden," a carnival and midway, an outdoor movies, an arts and crafts show, live music and more. Fireworks are planned for the night of the 21st.

The full schedule is at www.bristolmumfestival.com.

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