Memorial Day parades planned in six local communities
ADDISON COUNTY AND BRANDON — Strike up the band, get out your flags and raise a salute for the men and women who served the United States in the military and gave their lives doing so.
This weekend will see Memorial Day parades in six area town.
These festivities serve multiple purposes — they mark the traditional beginning of the summer, set a patriotic mood in the community, and set aside a time where we can remember those who fought and died for his nation.
Join in the fun and in the serious ceremony. Here’s a roundup of what’s going on.
Orwell kicks off local parades
As is traditional, the first local parade of the weekend will take place in the beautiful village of Orwell. The town of Orwell will host its 42nd Memorial Day Parade and Celebration starting at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, on the village green.
The parade will follow its usual 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 to the green.
Those who attend can expect to see the Catamount Pipe Band, the Fair Haven Union High School marching band, other musicians, tractors and, representatives from area American Legion posts, as well as lots of people in uniform.
The grand marshal for this celebration will be Louis Hall, who is retiring from 48 years on the town fire department — 36 as chief. Doug Edwards said the parade committee chose the lifelong Orwell resident as this year’s grand marshal not only for his generous service on the fire department, but also because of the way he has given to the town as first constable, tax collector and rescue squad member, and in other ways.
In a ceremony on the green at the close of the parade, speakers will extol Hall’s virtues and bestow on him (again) a plaque that Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith recently presented to Hall in a ceremony in Montpelier.
Middlebury hosts traditional celebration
Middlebury’s Memorial Day festivities will revolve around its annual parade, which will begin forming at 7:30 a.m. in the Middlebury College parking lot on Porter Field Road (off South Street).
The parade will step off at 9 a.m. sharp. The parade will feature several Middlebury-area school bands, numerous firetrucks, and, of course, a color guard.
Marchers will follow their traditional route north on Main Street, around the green onto Pleasant Street in front of the Congregational Church of Middlebury and in front of the Middlebury Inn. The parade concludes at the Soldiers’ Monument at the top of Merchants Row, where there will be a short ceremony honoring fallen servicemen and women and those still serving.
The benediction/invocation will be given by Rabbi Ira Schiffer and the featured speaker will be Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay. Sixth-grade students from Weybridge Elementary School will read aloud commemorative poems.
Want to join the fun? To participate in the parade, which is coordinated by Post 27 of the American Legion, call Post 27 at 388-9311 and let them know what type of entry you have (walkers, float, etc.), number of participants and what your entry represents. Then meet in the Middlebury College parking lot off of Field House Road at 7:30 a.m. on parade day.
“Floats and groups are always welcome in the parade,” said Post 27 member Tom Scanlon.
Brandon and Hancock have cozy ceremonies
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. Organizers call it a “quaint” parade — not as extensive as the Fourth of July blowout.
But there will be a remembrance ceremony at the bandstand with a few speeches, to be followed by a 100-year-old tradition of first-grade girls placing flowers at the base of the Civil War Monument.
Anyone who wishes to take part in the Brandon Memorial Day parade is asked to leave a message for Jean Lamarre at 247-8179.
In Hancock, the annual parade follows an informal gathering of veterans at 9:30 a.m. at the Branch Cemetery up Route 125 from the center of town. After their moment there, the vets will walk down to the firehouse, where a parade featuring fire and rescue equipment, more veterans, and anyone else who wants to join in will begin marching at 10 a.m.
The parade will proceed around the town green, which this year features a brand new town bandstand. After many years of effort and donations from the Vermont Community Foundation and generous locals, the bandstand was raised just last Friday.
Marchers will continue up Route 100 to the main Hancock Cemetery near the intersection with Route 125. Some of the components of the parade will then head south to Rochester for that town’s cavalcade.
Vergennes parade is big
The theme for the annual Vergennes Memorial Day observance this year will be “Honored and Remembered.” The announcement was made recently by Vergennes American Legion Post Commander Paul Paquin, who will deliver an address. He will be assisted by Legion stalwart Henry Broughton.
Sponsored each year by Vergennes American Legion Post 14, the parade and observance — billed as Vermont’s largest — will be held on Monday, May 25. The parade starts forming at Vergennes Union High School at 9 a.m. and will step off at 11 a.m. In the parade will be several bands providing marching music, dignitaries in convertibles, floats, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, firetrucks, mini-cars, marching units and more.
They will cover the two-mile route in front of the thousands of spectators who annually swell the Little City’s population for the event. Floats that are going to be in the parade need to be in line at the high school by 10:20 a.m. on the parade day in order to be part of the judging process.
Following the parade, Post 14 will host ceremonies at the Vergennes City Park. The Vergennes mayor and state and national leaders will be in attendance. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch will deliver the keynote address (See story, here).
Also during the ceremony, the VUHS Band under the direction of Susan O’Daniel will play the National Anthem prior to an invocation by a local pastor. A representative of the armed forces will lay a wreath at the monument to Commodore Thomas Macdonough, a hero of the Battle of Plattsburg on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812.
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 will sound taps.
After the services at the park, the Vergennes American Legion will hold its annual chicken barbecue. The public is invited.
Following the parade, all are cordially invited to the annual chicken barbecue under the tent at the Legion Post, 100 Armory Lane. Tickets are $8 per person.
Bristol hosts observance
Bristol American Legion will host its traditional “small town” Memorial Day parade and related festivities. The charming event begins with parade marchers stepping off from the entrance to Mount Abraham Union High School at Airport Drive at 1 p.m. They will proceed eastward on West Street to the village green, where Legion Post 19 will host its traditional Memorial Day Ceremony.
The parade will consist of representatives from the Bristol Police Department, Bristol Fire Department, Bristol Rescue Squad, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League and other civic organizations.
On the green, the Legion will feature a speech by Major Jacob Roy, the Operations Officer for a unit of the Vermont Army National Guard. A Bristol resident, Maj. Roy has served in the National Guard for 17 years. During that span he rose through the ranks of the engineering corps, and served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among his duties overseas was heading up a unit that searched for improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. He has earned many medals, including two bronze stars. (See full story on Maj. Roy.)
Following the ceremony, there will be an open house at the Legion.
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