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Memorial Day parade marchers, donations welcomed

Air Force veteran Bing Ventres drives Grand Marshal Judd Mott in an Army jeep.

Air Force veteran Bing Ventres drives Grand Marshal Judd Mott in an Army jeep.

May 26th is Memorial Day this year. That morning, the traditional place for you to be is downtown Wilton where you can join thousands of other Wiltonians who celebrate the day by watching or marching in this year’s parade and attending the ceremony at Hillside Cemetery.

Each year these events are planned to commemorate the many American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have given their lives for our country during the times of war. Since the birth of our nation, more than 700,000 of them have given their lives in combat to defend our freedom and way of life.

The parade  will begin at 10 a.m. at 21 River Road and proceed through Wilton Center up past the Veterans Memorial Green, Old Town Hall, and the Congregational church, ending up at the cemetery. Veterans living and deceased will be honored through speeches, music and song. All of the groups that previously participated and contributed to this traditional Wilton Memorial Day event will sometime soon be receiving invitations and applications to participate again this year.

Before the parade begins, The Wilton Kiwanis Club will hold its traditional Memorial Day Breakfast at the Congregational church, from 8 to 10:30.

Bryan Haeffele Air Force veteran Bing Ventres places an American flag at the grave of World War II Army veteran Fred Hunter Collis Sr. The flag on the right indicates Mr. Collis, who is buried at Hillside Cemetery, was a member of the American Legion. Hillside Cemetery will be the site of Wilton’s Memorial Day ceremony at the end of the parade on Monday, May 27.

Air Force veteran Bing Ventres places an American flag at the grave of World War II Army veteran Fred Hunter Collis Sr. The flag on the right indicates Mr. Collis, who is buried at Hillside Cemetery, was a member of the American Legion. (Bryan Haeffele photo)

The chairman of the committee for this year’s parade is Ray Tobiassen, who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1968 to 1975.

This year’s Wilton Memorial Day theme is Honor and Remember, to pay homage to our Wilton veterans and all of our country’s veterans, for the sacrifices they made for our country. Every Wilton resident who served in the military is urged to meet and participate in this year’s parade.

The committee  encourages as many groups as possible to prepare floats for the parade. These floats should be planned to show support for all of our military services, all U.S. and Wilton veterans, and all of our military personnel who are now serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout the world.

The parade will include the Wilton High School Band, the Pyramid Temple Bagpipers,  Wilton American Legion Post 86, Wilton Police Department, Wilton Fire Department, and a large number of U.S. Army vehicles. The lead bagpiper will be Wilton resident Drew Kennedy.

Organizations that have not participated in the past are once again encouraged to make this year their first appearance in one of Wilton’s most memorable yearly events. For an application to participate, please send a request to the Wilton Memorial Day Parade Committee, P.O. Box 75, Wilton, CT 06897.

Former First Selectman Robert H. Russell, center, the keynote speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony, salutes the flag at Hillside Cemetery. He is flanked by First Selectman Bill Brennan, left, and Air Force veteran Bing Ventres.

Former First Selectman Robert H. Russell, center, the keynote speaker at a past Memorial Day ceremony, salutes the flag at Hillside Cemetery. He is flanked by First Selectman Bill Brennan, left, and Air Force veteran Bing Ventres. (Bryan Haeffele photo)

If anyone has a convertible and would like to provide transportation for a veteran or dignitary in this year’s parade, please call Mr. Tobiassen at 203-762-8841.

Donations to defray expenses are welcome.

When announcing the parade committee’s plans for this year, Mr. Tobiassen pointed out there is an important need for funding by local businesses and individuals.

“Since this parade is not funded by the town it is required to be self-supporting, and we accordingly invite and encourage donations from all Wilton businesses and citizens to help this traditional event happen,” he said. “Our financial needs include the cost of hiring a bagpipe band, a bevy of banners, and a large number of flags that are distributed to children who watch the parade. Any and all contributions from local businesses and individuals will be gratefully received.”

Checks for donations should be made out to the 2014 Wilton Memorial Day Parade Committee and mailed to: Post Office Box 75, Wilton, CT 06897.

In addition to Mr. Tobiassen, the members of this year’s Wilton Memorial Day Parade Committee are Bud Boucher, Pam Brown, Bill Glass, Ann Klotz, Judd Mott, Karen Strickland, Patty Sweeney, Jeff Turner, Bing Ventres, and Tom Briody.

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