Larger Turnout for Vets Parade Despite Rain

Bill  O'Brien Photo Would there be a good turnout for the Veterans Day Parade?

Bill  O'Brien Photo The committee that oversees the annual parade was eager to find out.  An effort was made to “get the word out” that unless attendance improved this might be Branford’s the last parade. Instead there would be a ceremony. Looks like getting the word out worked. Here the crowd gathers on Main Street as the parade steps off on the wet street.

Bill  O'Brien Photo Branford and Milford are the only area towns that have parades each November to honor all those that served in the military . Branford’s parade was was held Sunday. Tomorrow, Nov. 11, is the date of the nation’s official Veteran’s Day. Here the marchers gather for the ceremonies.

Before the committee began its traditional stops at each of the town’s seven cemeteries they met to discuss possible rainy weather and to make a decision about whether to have the parade or have the ceremony at the high school, which was prepared to host it. Everyone on the committee felt the parade should go forward as the forecast was “chance of showers, rain late in the day.”

It didn’t quite work out that way and the early afternoon “mist” turned into a more steady rain but it was considered too late to move to the high school, which was already busy with youth football playoffs. Parking would be limited. 

Bill  O'Brien Photo Band Director Mallory Lagman led the BHS band in the National Anthem.

Bill  O'Brien Photo Chaplain Rev. Sharon Gracen of Trinity Church stands with members of the Fire Department.

Bill  O'Brien Photo Parade Marshals Richard Dunn of the American Legion and Elliott Hastings of the VFW lead the parade.

Bill  O'Brien Photo Ironically the rain stopped when the pre-parade ceremonies began and that reinforced the decision to go forward. Here A Vietnam Vet hands out a flag to Perry Maresca and his 14-month-old grandson, Tyler.

Bill  O'Brien Photo The showers returned after the parade began, but the troops marched on, including the Girl Scouts.

Bill  O'Brien Photo Here the scouts and the fire trucks move up Main Street to the Green.

Bill  O'Brien Photo The program included the Invocation by the Rev. Daniel Keefe, pastor of St. Mary’s Church; the National Anthem sung by Lia Whitten; greetings by First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove (pictured),

Bill  O'Brien Photo VFW Commander Elliott Hastings gave a moving address about Veterans Day.

Bill  O'Brien Photo State Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford, Branford)  established an essay contest entitled, “Why Should We Thank Our Veterans.” The winners, Michael Loomis and Christina Pepe, both sixth graders at the Walsh Intermediate School, read their brief entries. Here’s Rep. Scanlon with the winners.

Bill  O'Brien Photo Selections were played by Stony Creek Fife & Drum Corps (seen here marching in the rain), the Branford High School Band, and the Totoket Ancient Fife & Drum Corps. The program concluded with the Benediction by Rev. Glen Dmytryszyn, parochial vicar of St. Mary’s Church; the Firing Squad; and lastly, Taps.

Bill  O'Brien Photo The Totoket Ancient Fife & Drum Corps marched in their colorful outfits.
 
On a positive note, there was a marked increase in support for the parade with a larger than normal audience on the Green despite the rain.

“That was good to see,” said committee member Juris Patrylak. “The past few years we had only a handful of folks on the Green. My guess is we would have had a pretty good crowd if it were a good day.”

Bill  O'Brien Photo The ceremonies concluded with the Firing Squad and Taps.

The Eagle asked if the parade was a go for next year.

“We (the committee) will have a meeting shortly to discuss the future of the parade but I was pleased to see a nice turnout even with the inclement weather so we might lean to try it again next year to see if it continues. I think the residents reacted positively to the message of not having the parade if they didn’t come out this year,” said Bill O’Brien, committee chair.

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