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Yes Virginia, there is a Podunk”
Well yes, but not exactly. The term that applies to an absolutely
nowhere town could have referred to East Hartford as well as a number of
other places. You see, the Podunk Indians lived on the land where East
Hartford was incorporated when separated from Hartford in 1783. To begin
with, the town that was the virtual birthplace and continuing home of that
aviation pioneer, The Pratt and Whitney Corporation could hardly be termed
backward.Today’s East Hartford could be termed a town that is a city
and a city that is a town. With a population of about 50,000, it is a town.
But with its urban setting and working class population, it is a
city. This is a town / city with immense diversity. For example, in
the East Hartford schools, there are sixty-seven different dialects spoken
from Ghanaian to Vietnamese and everything before, after, and in between.
An important element in East Hartford’s vital growth is the UConn
football stadium, Rentschler Field, which opened three years ago, in tandem
with UConn football’s elevation to the Big East. The Podunk Indians
are given their due with the annual Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival, which
is held at East Hartford’s Martin Park and the East Hartford Community
Cultural Center. (podunkbluegrass.net) But it is the Riverfront
Recapture Program that is a most thrilling positive inspiration to the
people of East Hartford. This joint Hartford – East Hartford project
has engaged people with the Connecticut River in Metro Hartford. With
parks, hiking trails, as well as multiple youth programs, it has
successfully brought the outdoors to the inner city! Yes Virginia, there
is a Podunk, but it ain’t East Hartford.