Don’t let the parade pass you by

Before the barbecues are lit and the ketchup is on the burgers comes the annual Memorial Day parade and remembrance ceremony to honor Wilton’s fallen service members.

The parade committee invites everyone to “Salute Our Heroes” when marchers step off on Monday, May 29, at 10 a.m. from the Executive Campus on River Road.

There will be veterans, bagpipers, military vehicles, antique cars, emergency vehicles, dignitaries, local Scouts, the Wilton High School band, and other musical groups. Other marchers will represent local groups such as Ambler Farm, the Wilton Garden Club, the Wilton Wahoos, and softball, baseball and lacrosse teams.

After a stop at the Veterans Memorial Green to salute the memorial pillars, the parade will make its way up Ridgefield Road to Hillside Cemetery for a memorial service that will start at 11.

In case of a storm, the parade will be canceled but the memorial service will take place at 10:30 in Wilton Congregational Church.

Wilton soldiers have fought and died in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“That’s why we have the parade,” said Ray Tobiassen, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and chair of the parade committee. “We invite and encourage everybody that can to come up to the cemetery.”

The Rev. Anne Coffman of Wilton Congregational Church will open the service with an invocation, followed by a cannon salute. First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice will read a proclamation and parade grand marshal Vincent Von Zwehl will be introduced.

This year’s keynote speaker is Wilton police Lt. Robert Kluk, a former marine.

After a wreath is laid, the names of Wilton veterans who died this past year will be read.

Riley Sexton, a junior at Wilton High School, will sing the national anthem. Wilton police will fire a rifle salute.

“The veterans are the reason we even have a celebration,” Tobiassen said. “If it wasn’t for the veterans, we wouldn’t be free.”

Road closures

Dial-A-Ride vans will be stationed at Wilton Congregational Church to take seniors and those with disabilities to the Hillside ceremony. There will be a pickup area at Wilton Congregational Church for parents picking up their children and for those not continuing to Hillside. The church will be giving out water and hot dogs.

River Road will be closed to traffic beginning at 9:45, and Ridgefield Road at Drum Hill Road and Belden Hill Road will be closed as well.

Those planning on marching should gather at the back of the Kimco parking lot behind Stop & Shop. Everyone needs to register and sign in.

Donations welcome

The Memorial Day parade and parade committee are independent of the town and receive no municipal funds.The committee relies on private donations to pay its expenses, including hiring the bagpipers and purchasing banners and flags.

Each year, the committee places flags on the 400 military graves in Wilton.

Checks may be made out to the “Memorial Day Parade Fund” and mailed to Memorial Day 2017 Parade Fund, P.O. Box 75, Wilton CT 06897.