Connecticut's impossibly hot, impossibly unpredictable weather mostly cooperated Sunday for the Riverfest 2010 celebration, providing steamy sunshine — but no rain — for the rescheduled two-town event.
Organizers decided not to chance Saturday's forecast, which threatened to wash out the event on the river's edge in Hartford and East Hartford. After a day's postponement, dry if sticky weather greeted festival-goers Sunday at the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford, and Great River Park and Founders Plaza across the river.
On both sides of the water, entrepreneurs sold parasols and water bottles to sun-weary visitors, while booths offered the requisite summertime staples of face painting and fried dough and foot-long hotdogs.
In East Hartford, close-in parking spots were quickly filled, and some small children appeared hunched over and wilted as they made the long trek to the festivities. But spirits brightened considerably when a vintage Army National Guard helicopter came into view, attracting a steady line of kids eager to climb into the cockpit.
Jesse Riddle, visiting from Arizona and still a few years shy of a learner's permit, nevertheless spoke knowledgeably of throttles and propellers after hopping down from the craft.
"I want to be a pilot when I'm older," he explained, adding that the compact helicopter looked more like a radio-controlled toy than the real thing.
The festival began on both sides of the river with the National Anthem, followed by a 21-gun salute — or the basic fireworks version thereof. Then, soulful music filled the air, while vendors labored over smoky barbecues and filled glasses with chilly lemonade.
There were children's games and slushies and radio-station freebies. But some attendees simply unfolded portable chairs, their backs to the action, and stretched out their legs at the water's edge. Hours later, they had primo seats for Riverfest's final act: a colorful fireworks show over the water featuring more than 3,200 shells.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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