WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport’s 2015 Memorial Day Parade was every bit as great as the day turned out to be. This parade is always more than a remembrance of those who gave their lives for us. It is also a community participation event.
Before the parade, First Selectman Jim Marpe said it is one of the town's largest and most significant public events.
"It looked like 10 percent of Westport marched in parade, and the other 90 percent was watching,” Marpe said.
The parade was replete with dignitaries, bands, the fire and police departments, and large numbers of Westport’s veterans. It also featured two dozen floats. This year’s winner was built by the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston. It re-created the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.
As a community celebration, it brought out every group in town, veterans and veterans’ service organizations, the Boy and Girl Scouts, and community groups from CLASP Homes to the Levitt Pavilion, Sunrise Rotary and the Westport Library. One regular participant is Suzuki Music School, with three dozen young people playing music on violins, violas and cellos.
Westport’s young athletes were well represented, with Little League baseball and softball players and coaches, the Westport Soccer and Lacrosse Associations, and PAL (along with many of their dogs). The Y’s Water Rats Swim Team and its Gymnastics Team turned out, with the members performing cartwheels and flips the entire length of the parade.
The marchers moved up Riverside Avenue, turned onto the Post Road, then onto Myrtle Avenue and past the float judges in front of Town Hall.
The post parade ceremony on Veterans Green was led by William Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council.
Marpe spoke to the sacrifices all service people make to defend our way of life, and mentioned Westport Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lynsey Addario, who recently photographed battles in Afghanistan.
Parade Grand Marshal Bruce M. Allen offered the keynote speech. He served in Europe in Wolrd War II and received a Purple Heart for a wound sustained during the Battle of Remagen in March, 1945. Allen mentioned spending his 19th birthday in a foxhole, said, “It’s not great fun being shot at,” and issued a hope that we will find a better way to resolve disputes than war.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.