ADDISON COUNTY and BRANDON — Just as Memorial Day weekend signals the start of summer, it also marks a time for parades. Addison County residents will have plenty of options if they want to watch — or take part in — a parade. Marchers, floats and politicians will be seen in six local venues this coming Sunday and Monday.
Orwell will ring in the holiday with its traditional Sunday afternoon parade, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. The 45-minute parade will feature local Shriners, the Catamount Pipe Band, four American Legion color guards and the Fair Haven Union High School band.
Rose Christian Perry, a lifelong Orwell resident, will serve as the grand marshal in the town’s 36th annual parade. Perry served on the Ladies Auxiliary in Orwell and was a charter member of the Orwell First Response, which began in 1973.
The parade will start out on North Orwell Road and run east on Main Street before heading onto Church Street, circling Roberts Avenue, and bending back to head west on Main Street. Marchers will conclude with a ceremony on the town green that will feature a gun salute, the presentation of flowers at the veterans memorial on the town green, and the Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps.
Monday, of course, is the big day for parades. Middlebury’s spectacle gets under way at 9 a.m. at the Middlebury College Center for the Arts and follows the traditional route down Main Street and around the village green to the soldiers’ monument at the top of Merchants Row. G. Kenneth Perine, president of Middlebury National Bank, will emcee a ceremony there that will include a reading by Aiden Kirby of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a reading by Anders Bright of “In Flanders Field.” Kirby and Bright are sixth-graders at Bridport Central School.
Both Gov. Jim Douglas and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders are expected to march in both the Middlebury and Vergennes parades.
Participants in Brandon’s Memorial Day parade will gather at the town’s post office off Conant Square before the parade kicks off at 10 a.m. It is scheduled to wind its way down Route 7 to the Brandon Town green and Civil War monument for a memorial ceremony honoring the contributions of those in the military.
Hancock’s annual parade will take place as usual on Monday morning at 10 a.m. The parade will begin at the town clerk’s office and process to the town cemetery, with music provided by students from Rochester High School.
Bristol’s Memorial Day parade will take place on Monday, starting at 1 p.m. beginning at Bristol American Legion Post 19. The parade will proceed down West Street to the village green, where parade-goers will convene at the town’s new veteran’s memorial, which was completed last year.
A speaker from the Vermont National Guard will deliver the Memorial Day address, and then the Legion will hold an open house and luncheon at Post 19.
Vermont’s largest Memorial Day celebration — a parade that usually stretches to two miles — will begin at 11 a.m. in Vergennes. “It starts,” explained Memorial Day Committee Chairman Henry Broughton “with a two-mile long parade that includes color guards, veterans’ groups, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, lots of colorful floats, antique cars, parade horses, fire trucks, the Greater Burlington Cellarsavers, 12 marching bands, kids on bikes and much, much more.”
Ann Sullivan will announce the participating groups on the public address system as they parade down Main Street.
Following the parade, Memorial Day services will be held at the Vergennes City Park where American Legion Post 14 Commander Larney McGrath will serve as master of ceremonies. After the National Anthem, U.S. Navy veterans Bill Larrabee and Spencer Norton will lay a wreath at the Commodore Thomas McDonough monument. The Rev. Tim Taylor, pastor of the Victory Baptist Church, will offer the invocation prior to Mayor Michael Daniels’s greetings.
Paige Fournier, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lance Fournier of Ferrisburgh, will recite “In Flanders Field,” and Jared North, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert North, also of Ferrisburgh, will follow with “The Gettysburg Address.”
Native Vermonter J. Michael McGrath, currently of Neptune Beach, Fla., will give the Memorial Day address. McGrath is a retired naval officer with over 30 years of service and is currently the National President of the Navy League of the United States. He will be introduced by retired Navy Captain John Mitchell, a Ferrisburgh resident and the Service Officer for Legion Post 14.
At the conclusion of the address, the Vermont National Guard will render a 21-gun salute to honor the fallen service men and women for whom Memorial Day exists. Buglers Melvin and Aaron Hawley will sound “Taps” prior the benediction by the Rev. Gary Lewis, pastor of the Vergennes Congregational Church.
Following the ceremony in the park, the public is invited to attend the annual chicken barbeque at the Legion Post on Armory Lane.