Newtown's Labor Day parade on Monday is expected to be the biggest in the town's history, according to organizers, who say they've printed 5,000 programs instead of the usual 3,000.
Organizer Beth Caldwell doesn't have any any estimate to how many people might attend.
"And we really don't have anything to base that on except that, as you know, the spotlight's been on Newtown," she told Patch. "I think locally, more people are interested in taking the opportunity to celebrate Newtown. We're a great community, and the Labor Day parade exudes that spirit."
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This year, the parade's theme is "We Are Newtown: Marching Strong."
"It was chosen because of the beautiful, supportive strong community we are and as a way for the community to celebrate and move forward with some peace and happiness," said Caldwell.
Some may consider the decision to name the entire community of Newtown as grand marshal an unorthodox choice. Caldwell said the decision came out of numerous meetings, and struck her as the most meaningful choice.
"How can you choose one person to represent Newtown as a personality?" she said.
Rather than a bio of a prominent Newtowner, the parade's program will feature testimonials from residents like town historian Dan Cruson, First Selectman Pat Llodra and Police Chief Michael Kehoe.
Cruson said the parade has had an "unprecedented response" for participants. With 24 bands on the schedule and dozens of floats, organizers are expanding and making room for many new participants. Newtown police and first responders will lead the parade.
"Certainly the parade lineup will be larger than years past," said Caldwell. "Our first responders normally are requested to have three firetrucks, and this year we're allowing them to put a greater representation of each fire department."
At 9:30 a.m., before the official parade starts, the town will join to walk the World Flag -- a giant, global pastiche of many nations' flags -- down Main Street to the flagpole.
"That's just an amazing thing," she said. "Part of it is just it's such a huge flag; another is that the bystanders, the parade-goers, are there and are part of helping it, supporting it, moving it. The flag takes on almost a human-like spirit, if you will."
Cruson said several major media personalities inquired about participation, but parade organizers declined the offer.
"Our feeling was we didn't want this to turn into a media circus," he said.
Caldwell said organizers appreciated thoughts and prayers from outside groups, but added it's important to keep the event as local as possible.
"Our emphasis on the parade is to keep it as normal as possible," she said. "It's a parade about Newtown, of Newtown, for Newtown."While the parade will feature representation from some groups that have grown out of Dec. 14 -- including the Ducks of Sandy Hook and Newtown Action Alliance -- Cruson said it was important the parade didn't dwell in the recent past, but fixate on the future.
"We've tried to avoid completely turn this into a memorial," he said. The theme is 'We are Newtown, Marching Strong.' We're resilient and matching forward."
For the full line-up and more information on the Newtown Labor Day Parade, check out their website.
Editor's note: This article originally was published by Newtown Patch.