Longtime Wilton resident, vet named Memorial Day grand marshal

2022 Memorial Day Parade grand marshal Bing Ventres, front right, has bene a member of the parade committee since its inception and has served as chairman multiple times.

2022 Memorial Day Parade grand marshal Bing Ventres, front right, has bene a member of the parade committee since its inception and has served as chairman multiple times.

Wilton American Legion Post 86 / Contributed Photo

WILTON — Bing Ventres, a Air National Guard veteran, spent the majority of his day Monday at four different cemeteries laying flags at the graves of late veterans.

The laying of the flags has been a 34-year tradition of his that he said is one of the most important parts of the Memorial Day leadup and something he “wouldn’t want to see go away.” But this year, Ventres, who has lived in Wilton for 67 years, will be experiencing something brand new.

Ventres, 90, was named the grand marshal of the 2022 Wilton Memorial Day Parade — an honor that he graciously accepted when asked a number of weeks ago.

“It was quite exciting,” Ventres said Tuesday. “I’ve been on the parade committee in Wilton for over 20 years. I’ve always been there working and organizing the parade along with the committee, so it was quite exciting that they asked me to be the grand marshal this year.”

This year’s Memorial Day ceremonies will return to its pre-pandemic norm as a parade is scheduled to come up Old Ridgefield Road starting at 10 a.m., make its way through Wilton Center, and conclude at Hillside Cemetery.

Ventres has been a key member of the Memorial Day parade committee since its inception and has served as chairman at various times.

He was born and raised just west of town in New Canaan. Before even graduating high school, Ventres enlisted in the Air National Guard and served with the 103rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron where he trained as a vehicle maintenance mechanic. His unit was twice ordered to stand by for deployment to Korea during the Korean War, but was never activated and deployed.

Ventres has been a member of the Wilton American Legion Post 86 for 64 years with more than 20 served as a post commander.

Upon moving to Wilton after serving in the Air National Guard, his wife’s stepfather, one of the original builders of Post 86, had influenced Ventres to join the post. As “one of the younger ones” at the time, he decided he wanted to keep the post going. He said he has appreciated the sense of community at Post 86 and hopes for future generations of veterans to join and keep it going just as he did.

In the days leading up to Memorial Day Weekend, a typical long weekend for those at work and school, Ventres hopes to reinstill a sense of what the day is truly for. While many have picnics and cookouts, Ventres said, they should also take the day to “remember what all these service men have done for their safety.”