Guest commentary: Parade committee invites all

On Monday morning, May 27, the best place for you to be is downtown Wilton. Your presence there will help celebrate this day by watching or marching in this year’s traditional Memorial Day Parade and attending the ceremony at the Hillside Cemetery.

These events are carefully planned each year to commemorate the many American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have given their lives for their country during the times of war. Since the birth of our country, more than 650,000 of them have given their lives in combat to defend our freedom and way of life.

The parade will begin at 10, at 21 River Road, and proceed from Wilton Center up past the Veterans Memorial Green, Old Town Hall and the Congregational Church, ending up at Hillside Cemetery. There, veterans living and deceased will be honored by speeches, music and song. All the groups that previously participated and contributed to this traditional Wilton Memorial Day event will sometime soon receive invitations and applications to participate in this year’s event.

Before the parade begins, the Wilton Kiwanis Club will be holding its traditional Memorial Day Breakfast at the Congregational Church, from 8 to 10:30.

The chairman of the committee for this year’s parade is Bing Ventres, who served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War.

This year’s Wilton Memorial Day theme is Honor AND Remember, to pay homage to our Wilton veterans as well as all of our country’s veterans, for the sacrifices they made for our country. Every Wilton resident who wore a military uniform 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 themed 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 No. 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 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.

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

Donations welcome

When announcing the parade committee’s plans for this year’s Memorial Day Parade, Mr. Ventres pointed out that, as in past parades, there is a special need for funding by local businesses and individuals.

“This parade is not funded by the town,” he said. “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. 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 Wilton Memorial Day Parade Committee and mailed to P.O. Box 75, Wilton CT 06897.”

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