County readies for big display of parades on Memorial Day

ADDISON COUNTY — On this Memorial Day Weekend, locals will get plenty of chances to remember the sacrifices of the women and men who died in service to our country and to feel the first thrills of summer in parades around the county.
Look for parades in Orwell, Middlebury, Vergennes and Bristol this weekend. There will also be readings of patriotic and nostalgic verse and plenty of men and women in uniform to go up and thank.
Orwell will kick off the Memorial Day celebrations with its traditional Sunday afternoon parade, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. and last around 45 minutes. The parade’s theme this year is “Vermont Traditions,” and many floats will be designed to reflect some of the many traditional Vermont activities and industries.
The parade will also feature the Catamount Pipe Band, the Fair Haven Union High School band, various local youth clubs (such as the Boy Scouts and Little League), the Mt. Independence Seth Warner Fife and Drum Corps, and the local Shriners. The American Legions from Castleton, Fair Haven, Brandon and Middlebury will also participate.
Alden F. Atwood, a resident of Orwell for 63 years, will serve as grand marshal in the town’s 38th annual parade. Atwood served as the postmaster for 27 years beginning in 1960, and has been active in his church as a deacon and occasional member of the choir. Alden has also been active in the Shrine (Cairo Temple) and the Masons (Independence Lodge No. 10) for more than 50 years, and has accumulated many awards and honors.
The parade will take the same route as in years past: beginning on North Orwell Road and running east to Main Street, before heading onto Church Street, circling Roberts Avenue, and then bending back to march west on Main Street. The        parade will conclude on the town green, where many of the bands will perform for the crowd.
Middlebury’s Memorial Day festivities will revolve around 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 parade will step off at 9 a.m. sharp and will follow its traditional route down Main Street and around the village green to the soldiers’ monument at the top of Merchants Row.
Charlie Liberty, commander of Middlebury American Legion Post 27, said the parade will last around an hour and will feature several Middlebury-area school bands, numerous firetrucks, contingents from some local towns marking their 250th birthdays and other entries.
Among those celebrating a 250th anniversary of their town charters is Weybridge. Town officials said their entry in the parade will include firetrucks, a float, 4-H Club marchers, bell ringers from the Weybridge Church and a horse and buggy from the UVM Morgan Horse Farm.
Col. Brian Carpenter of Middlebury, who is the assistant adjutant general for the Vermont Army National Guard, will deliver a speech after the parade. That speech, honoring fallen servicemen and women and those still serving, will be delivered from the steps of the Town Hall Theater off Merchants Row.
The city of Vergennes and the parade sponsor, Vergennes American Legion Post 14, said they would like to promise two things for Memorial Day: a sunny day and a great parade.
Well, they can’t guarantee sun, but they can promise to deliver another classic Memorial Day parade. This year’s parade theme is “Forget-Me-Not” and it again promises to be the biggest Memorial Day parade in the state with a flyover by jets from the Vermont Air National Guard expected. As has been the case for as long as anyone can remember (some 50 years), Legionnaire Henry Broughton chairs the parade committee and personally coordinates the activities of the large number of people involved.
The parade begins promptly at 11 a.m., stepping off from Vergennes Union High School where floats, 10 marching bands, color guards, veterans’ groups, Scouts, firetrucks, antique cars, and many more participants will have formed earlier that morning. Led by Parade Marshal Richard Poquette, a Vergennes resident and World War II Navy combat veteran (See a profile in our Memorial Day supplement in today’s Independent), the two-mile parade will proceed up Monkton Road and turn onto Main Street heading toward City Hall.
A reviewing stand will be set up in front of Vergennes City Park from which Ann Sullivan will announce the myriad groups and individuals, some of whom will be riding in convertibles, as they pass. In addition to Parade Marshal Poquette, dignitaries passing the reviewing stand will include guest speaker Capt. James McNulla, USN (Ret.), a Vergennes native, Naval Academy graduate and 27-year active duty veteran; and Unit 14 Legion Auxiliary President Pam Norton. Norton is also Department of Vermont Auxiliary vice president and president-elect. Accompanying her will be Poppy Girls Kaylee Colby and Maisa Allen and 2011 Green Mountain Girls’ State President Hannah Degraff. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Peter Shumlin have both been invited and it is anticipated they will both attend.
The parade will turn onto South Maple Street and wind its way through several side streets before turning onto Green Street to return to Vergennes City Park where the parade concludes.
Following the parade, Legion Post 14 Commander Roger Norton will take the podium as master of ceremonies on the bandstand. The VUHS band will play the National Anthem prior to an invocation by the Rev. Yvon Royer, pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Vergennes Mayor Michael Daniels will deliver greetings from the host city and recognize local dignitaries and office holders.
Two retired Navy vets, Petty Officer First Class Spencer Norton and Chief Petty Officer William Larrabee, will lay a wreath at the monument to Commodore Thomas McDonough, a hero of the Battle of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812. VUHS students will then take over as Megan Stearns recites “In Flanders Fields” and Trevor Patterson, the Gettysburg Address. Both are sophomores. The VUHS band will perform “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Retired Navy captain and Legion member John Mitchell will then introduce Capt. McNulla, who will deliver the Memorial Day address. McNulla was a naval aviator who served in a variety of operational, staff and technical management positions during a distinguished career. Following his address, a unit of the Vermont National Guard will conduct a 21-gun salute in honor of those who gave their lives during our nation’s wars and conflicts. Buglers Melvin and Aaron Hawley will sound taps. The ceremonies will conclude with a benediction offered by the Rev. Stephen Payne, pastor of the Addison Community Baptist Church and the playing of “America the Beautiful” by the VUHS band.
Following the parade, all are cordially invited to the 47th annual chicken barbecue under the tent at the Legion post, 100 Armory Lane. The $7 price includes not only the chicken, but also all the fixings and dessert.
Last but not least, the town of Bristol and American Legion Post 19 will again sponsor the Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony on May 30 at 1 p.m. This year’s guest speaker is Maj. William McKern from the Vermont Army National Guard.
McKern lives in Barre and has been a member of the Guard since 1982. He currently serves as the administrative officer for the 3rd Battalion 124th Regiment in Northfield.
He has been deployed to Iraq and served as a team chief to instruct Iraqi soldiers in leadership, maintenance, supply management and computer skills. McKern has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Excelsior College and a master’s degree in military studies from American Military University. Some of his awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
Interested parade participants will meet at the Legion at 12:30. The parade will depart the Legion at 1 p.m. and follow West Street and Main Street to the park. As usual, the Mount Abraham Union High School band will be the key provider of music for both the parade route and on the park.
Post 19 will host an open house with a cookout immediately following the ceremony on the park. 

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