Not enough money for UConn parade

April 13, 2011 6:08:17 PM PDT
There may not be a victory parade for the Connecticut men's basketball team.

Organizers said Wednesday they have raised only about half of the $50,000 needed to put on a parade through downtown Hartford and rally at the state Capitol this weekend.

Laura Soll, a spokeswoman for the organizers, said if they can't raise the other $25,000 by Friday, the celebration will be limited to a victory rally on the Capitol steps.

"We are going to have a celebration," Soll said. "It's going to be great. There is definitely going to be a rally. But in order to have the parade, we need to raise the additional money."

The celebration is being produced by the Hartford Business Improvement District and the MetroHartford Alliance, who are working with the city and the state. But Soll said no public funds are being sought to put on the parade, which has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday.

"People don't realize the costs involved," she said. "A large amount, for example, is for public safety. We have to pay for insurance, that's a large amount. We have to pay for portalets (portable toilets). People think this is easy and it's not."

There have traditionally been parades in Hartford in years UConn has won a national championship. This is the men's third championship. The women's basketball team has won seven. In 2004, an estimated 300,000 people showed up for a joint parade after both teams won NCAA titles.

In 2003, UConn declined to have a parade, saying it would be inappropriate so soon after the start of the war in Iraq, but the team did get a victory rally at the Capitol.

Sunday's parade is planned to wind through downtown around Bushnell Park and back down Capitol Avenue for the rally on the north steps of the state house, with the Huskies riding on the top of a double-decker bus. Several bands, a Siberian Husky club, cheerleaders and others also are planning to march, Soll said.

Plans call for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, coach Jim Calhoun and star guard Kemba Walker to speak to the crowd at the Capitol and show off the trophy that the Huskies took home after their 53-41 win over Butler in the April 4 NCAA championship game.

"We're still very hopeful that the corporate community will step forward so we can have the parade as well," Soll said.

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