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Crowds Turn Out, Step Off For Westport's Memorial Day Parade

The Y’s Men of Wesptort/Weston built this float  of the Signing the Peace Treaty On the USS Missouri.  This float won Best in the Parade.
The Y’s Men of Wesptort/Weston built this float of the Signing the Peace Treaty On the USS Missouri. This float won Best in the Parade. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The Y’s Men of Wesptort/Weston, with a few more than 400 members, includes over 50 men who served in World War II. The group also includes large numbers of Korean and Vietnam Era veterans.
The Y’s Men of Wesptort/Weston, with a few more than 400 members, includes over 50 men who served in World War II. The group also includes large numbers of Korean and Vietnam Era veterans. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
World War II veteran Bruce Allen serves as this year’s Grand Marshal in Westport.
World War II veteran Bruce Allen serves as this year’s Grand Marshal in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Grand Marshal Bruce Allen received a Purple Heart at the Battle of Remagen during March 1945. He spent his 19th birthday in a foxhole and said that getting shot — or shot at — is no fun.
Grand Marshal Bruce Allen received a Purple Heart at the Battle of Remagen during March 1945. He spent his 19th birthday in a foxhole and said that getting shot — or shot at — is no fun. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
From left: State Sen. Toni Boucher, state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, Third Selectman Helen Garten and First Selectman Jim Marpe.
From left: State Sen. Toni Boucher, state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, Third Selectman Helen Garten and First Selectman Jim Marpe. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Westport’s Fire Department is always well represented.
Westport’s Fire Department is always well represented. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Westport’s Fire Department
Westport’s Fire Department Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The Westport Fire Department
The Westport Fire Department Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Staples High School Marching Band
Staples High School Marching Band Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
From left: Ted Diamond, Larry Aasen and Martha Aasen. Diamond worked to bring World War II veterans out to participate in the parade. He served in the Army Air Corps as a radioman in WWII. Aasen also served in WWII. Both are in Y's Men.
From left: Ted Diamond, Larry Aasen and Martha Aasen. Diamond worked to bring World War II veterans out to participate in the parade. He served in the Army Air Corps as a radioman in WWII. Aasen also served in WWII. Both are in Y's Men. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Another view of the venue
Another view of the venue Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The playing of 'Taps' and presentation of the memorial wreath.
The playing of 'Taps' and presentation of the memorial wreath. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Town Clerk Patty Strauss and Probate Judge Lisa Wexler
Town Clerk Patty Strauss and Probate Judge Lisa Wexler Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Ted Diamond organizing the veterans before the parade
Ted Diamond organizing the veterans before the parade Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Sunrise Rotary promoting Great Duck Race, to be held on Jesup Green on June 13
Sunrise Rotary promoting Great Duck Race, to be held on Jesup Green on June 13 Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Westport’s RTM
Westport’s RTM Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
A sign of the times
A sign of the times Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
A sign of the times
A sign of the times Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
A sign of the times
A sign of the times Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The judges rate the floats as they go past.
The judges rate the floats as they go past. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
A sign of the times
A sign of the times Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
A sign of the times
A sign of the times Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
People and pets turn out for the parade
People and pets turn out for the parade Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
First Selectman addresses the crowd at the end of the parade
First Selectman addresses the crowd at the end of the parade Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs

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.

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