NEWINGTON - The town is known throughout the region for its observance of the Memorial Day holiday, with one of the largest celebrations in the state.
The Newington Memorial Day Parade is set for this Saturday, May 26, stepping off at 10:30 a.m. at Main Street and East Robbins Avenue. Local residents, town officials, community groups, state legislators and veterans from all over Connecticut are expected to attend.
For the first time this year Newington Parks and Recreation staff have recruited people to march in the department’s large contingent playing a variety of instruments. Eight marching bands are also expected to take part, including the 1st Company of the Governors Foot Guard and the Newington High School Marching Band.
At the heart of the festivities is remembering several dozen men who once lived in town before perishing in military combat, beginning with World War I.
“It’s really all about those 30 Newington residents who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Parade Chairman Fran Evon explained. “Freedom born from sacrifice is our unofficial theme this year.”
Several members of the Newington Memorial Day Parade Committee compiled a booklet with all 30 men’s names, photographs and information about their service. Students from Central Connecticut State University helped conduct research. The list of Newington’s fallen soldiers is also inscribed on a monument outside Town Hall, built by the Newington Kiwanis Club.
The public is invited to attend the Ceremony of Roses in the facility’s lobby following Saturday’s parade. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will carry roses out to the monument to honor each hero, accompanied by a rifle salute and Taps played by the Newington High School Band. The Singing Seniors will perform musical selections as well.
Guest speaker is 2018 Parade Grand Marshal Connecticut Army National Guard Captain Patrick Montes, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He’s a highly decorated young man,” committee Vice Chairman Sgt. Major Ken O’Brien said of Montes, who is currently serving as the Casualty Operations Officer for the CT National Guard and the Military Funeral Honors OIC. His service has earned him many awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal Valor, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
The committee selects a veteran each year to represent the town in the parade. O’Brien, a retired veteran and policeman, has been a part of this planning for several decades, as parade chairman for much of that time.
“I’ve been involved for a lot of years and I thought it was time to step down and let someone younger take the reins,” O’Brien said of Evon, who has served as chairman the last few years.
Both men join many other volunteers to put on a successful parade each year, while other Memorial Day events across the region have ended. They work to raise about $10,000 annually for it to continue.
Donations are needed to fund next year’s parade. They can be sent to The Newington Memorial Day Parade Inc, at 131 Cedar Street, Newington, CT 06111.
“It truly is through a holistic approach,” Evon pointed out. “We get great support from the town, local government and all of the youth groups. We couldn’t put it on without them.”
Newington police, volunteer firefighters and Parks and Recreation and Highway Department staff help to execute the day’s activities. Signs will be posted along the route directing spectators, marchers and motorists.
Parade participants are asked to be dropped off at the corner of Taft Street and Walsh Avenue before 9:30 a.m. to assemble in Badger Field. These roads and those in the surrounding neighborhood are set to close at 9:30 a.m. Main Street between Garfield Street and East Robbins Avenue will close at 10 a.m.
The route continues 1.5 miles north up Main Street through the downtown district. Marchers will head west on Garfield Street to disperse at Mill Pond Park in front of Town Hall.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.
If you go:
WHAT: Newington Memorial Day Parade
WHEN: May 26, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Parade steps off at the corner of East Robbins and Main Streets