Freddie, Meet Eli

It’s always a magical collision of town and gown when Yale’s Class Day (the pre-Graduation Day event where the world-famous guest speakers hold forth) falls on the same afternoon as the Freddie Fixer Day Parade (a major community tradition in the African-American community). The traffic jams following these simultaneous gatherings are some of the most amusing you’ll ever witness.

Tow trucks are out bright and early downtown to deter the countless visitors who might otherwise be tempted to park in illegal or questionable spots. Bus routes on Dixwell Avenue from North Street to Dixwell and Lake Place is shut down from 1 to 5 p.m. due to the parade. So there’s all kinds of excitement throughout downtown, not just inside Yale’s Old Campus and along the parade route. It’s a wild afternoon of people getting places.

The Class Day speaker this year is Cory Booker, the Newark mayor whom many seem to feel will have a more far-reaching political presence in the forseeable future. A Yale Law School grad, Booker will run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2014.

The Freddie Fixer Parade grew, which starts at the corner of Dixwell and Morse and works its way to downtown New Haven, is celebrating its 51st anniversary. It grew out of a beloved neighborhood clean-up campaign in the mid-20th century and has become of the unifying events of New Haven. It’ll be interesting to see which of the candidates running for mayor of New Haven will march this year.