Led by 2014 Ringmaster Paul Timpanelli and dignitaries throughout Connecticut, the Whip, Whistle and Watch luncheon May 16 at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn kicked off the formal celebration of the Barnum Festival, the annual salute to 19th century showman P.T. Barnum.
The time-honored fund-raising event reflected the 66th Barnum Festival’s battle cry, “Imagine, Inspire, Enjoy!” The presentation of the whip, whistle and watch to Timpanelli signifies the official start to the regional celebration featuring a variety of events for children and adults.
The whip was presented by Paul Miller, Timpanelli’s college roommate, and Karen DelVecchio, executive vice president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council; and the whistle was handed over by state Sen. Andres Ayala of Bridgeport and Stratford Mayor John Harkins.
The watch, once owned by P.T. Barnum, was presented by Dianne Auger, a senior vice president of St. Vincent’s Health Services; Charles Firlotte, president and CEO of Aquarion Co.; James Tomchik, president of Merit PLC; and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.
‘Rebuilding, redefining, revitalizing’
“I am truly grateful to have been given this opportunity,” said Timpanelli, CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC). “I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity in my life to learn and teach, learn and serve, and learn and grow.
“We are now in the early stages of rebuilding, redefining and revitalizing this festival to create an economic driver for our region,” said Timpanelli, who previously served as Trumbull first selectman.
The event also featured the presentation of the Barnum Festival/BRBC Recognition Awards to four individuals symbolic of the characteristics of leaders that impacted the region:
— Igor Sikorsky, helicopter inventor.
— Gustave Whitehead, aviation pioneer
— Lewis Latimore, inventor and draftsman who worked with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison.
— P.T. Barnum, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
The Barnum Festival/BRBC PT Barnum/Igor Sikorsky Award was presented to George Chatzpoulus, a Greek immigrant who owns and operates, with his family, three Chip’s Family Restaurants in the greater Bridgeport region.
The PT Barnum/Gustave Whitehead Award was presented to Pablo de Jesus Colon Hijo, who 25 years ago launched Radio Cumbre, the first locally-owned Spanish language radio station.
The PT Barnum/Lewis Latimore Award was presented to George Mintz, president of the Juneteenth of Fairfield County organization that commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States.
The PT Barnum Award was presented to 2013 Ringmaster John Stafstrom, whose introduction of new events delivered renewed vibrancy to the festival.
About P.T. Barnum
Barnum, who served as Bridgeport’s mayor, was a visionary behind Bridgeport Hospital, Aquarion Water Co. and Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co.
The showman’s philanthropic efforts on behalf of Bridgeport included donation of the land for Seaside Park, a waterfront jewel designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of New York’s Central Park.
Festival includes many event
The Whip, Whistle and Watch luncheon helps to support the various festival events such as Wing Ding Parade for kids, Champions on Parade drum corps competition, Sky Blast fireworks and the Great Street Parade.
Event sponsors were: Aquarion Co., Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co., Chip’s Family Restaurants, City of Bridgeport, People’s United Bank, D’Addario Industries, Merit Insurance, Pullman & Comley, Santa Energy Corporation, St. Vincent’s Health Services, Trefz Corporation, UIL Holdings.
For more information, visit www.barnumfestival.com or call 203-367-8495.