WILTON — “After consideration and hand wringing,” Bud Taylor, chair of Wilton’s Memorial Day Parade Committee, announced this year’s parade is canceled.

“With the Governor extending school opening until at least May 20th, we realize that this would eliminate the two main bands of the parade. That, plus the fact that we still don't know if public gatherings will be possible at the parade date, we decided that this is the only wise way to go,” he said.

The parade, which draws hundreds of participants and thousands of well-wishing onlookers each year, is one of Wilton’s biggest social and patriotic events of the year.

It’s cancellation comes as no surprise as a number of people close to the committee expressed their doubts about its taking place within the past few weeks.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said she spoke with Taylor and that although the parade is canceled, there will still be a Memorial Day recognition of those that have died.

“As far as their decision to cancel the parade, I think most residents understand and support their decision, as I do,” she said. “Everyone loves the parade, so I hope we are able to have a parade later in year. It just wouldn’t be a Memorial Day parade.”

Speaking for the American Legion, Post 86 Commander Bill Glass said, “Post 86 fully understands and supports the decision of the Parade Committee to cancel this year’s Memorial Day parade and ceremony. The Post is working on some sort of appropriate observance and details will be forthcoming.

“In the meantime, we hope everyone will take a moment on May 25th to remember the supreme sacrifice made since 1775 by over 1 million of our servicemen and women for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Each year the parade, led by a grand marshal, culminates in a moving ceremony at Hillside Cemetery which features an address by the keynote speaker, remarks by town dignitaries, and a recitation of the names of veterans who died in the year since the previous ceremony.

Many parade-goers also fortify themselves before it begins at the annual pancake breakfast presented by the Wilton Kiwanis Club.