ADDISON COUNTY — The last weekend in May is always a big one for anyone who likes to listen to brass bands play, wonder at the precision driving of Shriners in pint-size vehicles, and watch a procession of friends and neighbors march past holding banners and waving. This year should be no exception.
Six Addison County towns will host Memorial Day parades this weekend.
As usual, Orwell will kick-off the festivities with its traditional Sunday afternoon parade, which gets under way at 1:30 p.m. The 34th annual parade will line up on North Orwell Road and proceed through the village to the green. This year’s parade marshal, Cindy Watrous, will lead a procession that includes the Fair Haven Union High School band, the Catamount Pipe Band, four American Legion color guard units, at least six Shriners units and a collection of fire department and rescue vehicles from area towns. The Rev. John Tatro of the Orwell Congregational Church will give the invocation as part of the memorial service on the green.
Marchers in the Middlebury parade, whose theme is “Lest We Forget,” step off at 9 a.m. on Monday on South Main Street and will proceed northbound and up to the Congregational Church and around the east side of the town green to the soldiers’ monument in front of the Town Hall Theater. In a remembrance ceremony expected to begin at approximately 9:45 a.m. at the monument, Gov. James Douglas, a Middlebury resident, will deliver the main address. The Rev. Terence Gleeson of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church will deliver the invocation and benediction.
Two students from the Bridport Central School will deliver recitations in the ceremony. Chelsea Plouffe will read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Joseph Woods will recite “In Flanders Field,” the World War I poem by Canadian John McCrae.
Participants in Brandon’s Memorial Day parade will gather at the town’s post office off Conant Square at 9 a.m. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. and wind its way down Route 7 to the Brandon Town green and Civil War monument. There, in the park, local veterans and town officials will host a ceremony honoring the contributions of our men and women in the military.
The Brandon parade is expected to last around 30 minutes.
Also at 10 a.m. on Monday, Hancock will host its annual parade. The procession will begin at the town clerk’s office and continue on to the cemetery.
Bristol American Legion Post 19 has organized a parade for Monday, as well. It will begin at approximately 1 p.m. (as soon as the Mount Abraham Union High School band returns from marching in the Vergennes parade, organizers say) at the American Legion building on Airport Drive and process down West Street to the village green. An officer from the Vermont Army National Guard will deliver the Memorial Day address in a ceremony on the green.
The annual Memorial Day Parade and Observance in Vergennes, which will begin at 11 a.m. at the high school, is expected to be big, with more than 100 units marching and at least 13 bands. Look for a squadron of Vermont Air Guard F-16 fighter jets to fly over as the marching gets started.
The parade, whose theme this year is “Memories Eternal,” will follow the same route as in previous years, winding through the city and ending up at the Vergennes City Park where the Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, Vermont’s adjutant general, will deliver the Memorial Day address. Organizers have lined up an array of colorful floats, Civil War re-enactors, antique cars, color guards, scouting groups, marching groups, antique tractors, fire trucks, decorated bicycles and much more. Politicians expected to be on hand include U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Gov. Douglas.
Dennis Steady will be master of ceremonies at the Vergennes City Park. (For a full agenda on Vergennes Memorial Day activities, see Page 5B.)
Following the services at the park, the annual chicken barbeque will be held at the Vergennes American Legion under the tent. The public is welcome.