ESSEX — Hundreds of people lined Main Street in Essex Sunday on a relatively balmy — and sunny — 45-degree winter day to bang on pots and pans, welcome larger-than-life town mascot Essex Ed back for another year, wear furry critter hats and beat back winter at the 42nd annual Essex Ed Groundhog Day Parade.

As usual, the lovingly rag-tag Essex parade — for more than four decades one of the nation’s more unique celebrations of smalltown Americana — included seemingly every kid in town.

They were joined by many of their parents and grandparents, some fife and drum players and a few classic cars, with all the people banging on carefully-chosen kitchen implements.

Shortly after 2 p.m., as they do every year, they all marched out of the parking lot of Essex Boat Works, with Essex Ed — “dressed” this year as a firefighter in commemoration of Essex Fire Department, a volunteer department that has served the community since 1833 — riding through Essex Village in the back of a classic motorcar.

They went just over one block on Ferry Street, hung a right opposite The Griswold Inn — one of the oldest continuously run taverns in the United States — proceeded onto Main Street and headed four or five blocks up the length of Main Street.

There, at the corner of Main and North Main, eight-foot Essex Ed’s handlers marched him back to mount him on his specially-built platform so virtually everyone in the crowd could have their photos taken in front of him. The parade is sponsored each year by the Essex Board of Trade and other civic organizations.

This year’s Essex Ed Parade came just 20 days after a Jan. 6 fire that temporarily shuttered the landmark Black Seal restaurant and bar, a popular Main Street seafood joint and grill that is along the parade route — and would have been packed on Sunday had it been open on Parade Day.

The 2020 parade was accompanied by an afternoon-long benefit at the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club to raise money for Black Seal workers who are jobless for the several months it will take to get the establishment back up and running. Anyone who missed the benefit but wants to help can do so at a GoFundMe page set up for the effort. The page is at http://bit.ly/2uEz7uo — and as of Monday afternoon, had raised $9,384 of a $50,000 goal.

While Essex Ed appears to have seen his shadow this year — said to portend six more weeks of winter — worry not. (Not that anyone in Essex seemed to be all that worried.) The actual Groundhog Day — with its higher-profile, corresponding national hoopla and prediction by that other famous groundhog, Western Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil — falls on Feb. 2.

Connecticut Media Group