ADDISON COUNTY — People looking to honor those who have served our country — and listen to marching bands, watch their neighbors’ kids walk together in uniforms, and look at creative floats — this Sunday and Monday will have a half-dozen options around the county.
Memorial Day parades and ceremonies are planned, in chronological order, in Orwell, Middlebury, Brandon, Hancock, Vergennes and Bristol.
Orwell kicks off two days of activities with its 39th annual Sunday afternoon parade, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. and last about 45 minutes.
Parade committee head Christine Pouliot — who will step down from the committee after 11 years — said she was especially excited about two elements in the parade: the 40th Army Band will march and perform, and as many as a half-dozen area World War II veterans will jointly serve as its grand marshals.
The parade’s theme this year is “Waterways of Vermont,” and Pouliot said float makers were encouraged to highlight activities ranging from boating to ice fishing.
The parade will also again feature the Catamount Pipe Band, the Fair Haven Union High School band, local youth clubs, the Seth Warner Fife and Drum Corps, Shriners and American Legion members.
All residents of Orwell and Shoreham who are World War II veterans were invited to jointly serve as grand marshals of the parade. Pouliot said up to a half-dozen will lead the procession.
The parade will follow its traditional route, beginning on North Orwell Road and running east to Main Street before heading onto Church Street, circling Roberts Avenue, and then heading back west on Main Street.
The parade will conclude with a ceremony on the Orwell town green, where several of the bands will perform, including the Slater band playing the national anthem.
All the other Memorial Day commemorations will be held on Monday.
Middlebury’s festivities will center on its annual parade, which will begin forming at 8 a.m. in the parking area of Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts off South Main Street.
The hour-long parade will start at 9 a.m. and head down Main Street and around the village green to the soldiers’ monument at the top of Merchants Row.
A ceremony will follow on the steps of the Town Hall Theater. The parade typically features several area school bands, many firetrucks and other rescue equipment, youth and community groups, politicians, floats and more.
Parades in Brandon and Hancock are up next; both are set to begin at 10 a.m.
Brandon’s parade lineup will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Brandon Post Office. The parade sets in motion at 10 a.m. and heads up Conant Square and Center Street to the bandstand in Central Park.
There, a remembrance ceremony at the bandstand is planned, to be followed by the flower girl ceremony at the Civil War Monument across the street.
Hancock’s parade, organized by the region’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, begins at the town library on Route 125. From there, it heads east to Route 100 and turns south to the town cemetery, where there will be a ceremony.
Of course, the Vergennes parade is one of the largest and best attended in Vermont. For the 50th and final time, American Legion Post 14 official Henry Broughton handled the organizing for this year’s event, which carries the theme, “Honoring Their Memory.”
The two-mile-long parade steps off from Vergennes Union High School at 11 a.m. Organizers were expecting at least 20 floats, a dozen marching bands and many color guards, groups and vehicles, all to be led by parade marshal May Fay, a Vergennes resident and World War II Navy WAVE veteran.
The parade will proceed up Monkton Road and turn onto Main Street heading downtown, and then along several side streets.
At its conclusion, from a reviewing stand on the city green Ann Sullivan will introduce Fay; guest speaker Dr. Donald Bicknell, a longtime Vergennes physician and retired Army National Guard Medical Corps colonel; and American Legion Auxiliary Department of Vermont President Pam Norton.
The VUHS band will play the national anthem and other selections, and among many other items in the ceremony, two retired Navy veterans, Petty Officer First Class Spencer Norton and Chief Petty Officer William Larrabee, will lay a wreath at the monument to Commodore Thomas Macdonough, a hero of the Battle of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812.
Following the ceremony, Post 14 will serve its annual chicken barbecue at 100 Armory Lane. Tickets are $7.50.
Bristol kicks off its Memorial Day festivities with a 1 p.m. parade that leaves Mount Abraham Union High School and will head along West Street to the village green.
American Legion Post 19 will host ceremonies on the green with comments from Legion Commander Ron LaRose and guest speaker Vermont Army National Guard Col. Ray Bouchard, a Hinesburg resident veteran of the war in Afghanistan. A wreath will be placed at the town’s Veterans Memorial. Following the ceremony, there will be an open house at the Legion.
Col. Bouchard, a University of Vermont graduate and marathon runner, is presently serving the Guard as the Deputy U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer at Camp Johnson in Colchester. His assignments have included commander of the 124th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, and a 15-month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, as the police advisory commander.