ADDISON COUNTY — Six area towns are making final preparations to host Memorial Day parades over the long holiday weekend.
Orwell will kick-off the festivities with its traditional first-in-the-county parade on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The parade will begin on North Orwell Road and proceed to the green in the village.
On Monday, Brandon’s Memorial Day parade will focus on remembrance of Americans who have served in the armed forces. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the post office and proceed to Central Park, where the town will host a memorial service. Among the entrants in the parade will be the Neshobe Marching Band.
Also at 10 a.m. on Monday, Hancock will host a parade. The procession will begin at the Vermont Home Bakery and continue on to the cemetery.
Bristol will host a parade on Monday, as well. It will begin at 1 p.m. at the American Legion building on Airport Drive and will follow West Street to the village green. The speaker on the green will be Lt. Col. Brian Carpenter of the Vermont Army National Guard.
The shire town will host the earliest parade on Memorial Day. Middlebury’s parade is scheduled to get under way at 9 a.m. on South Main Street and run northbound and east on Merchants Row to the soldiers’ monument in front of the Town Hall Theater.
Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will deliver an address at the soldiers’ monument, with Rabbi Ira Schiffer of the Middlebury Havurah Jewish Congregation, and a Chaplain at Middlebury College, giving the benediction and closing prayer.
Among the musicians marching in the parade will be the Catamount Pipes and Drums and the Middlebury Union High School Marching Band. Both will also play in the ceremony at the monument. Parade organizers American Legion Post 27 and the Middlebury Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7823 have also lined up various color guards, the Shriners and re-enactors for the parade, as well as a slate of politicians. Other musicians will include the Middlebury Union Middle School and Mary Hogan Elementary School bands, the Blues Brother Band from Montreal and the Pipes and Drums of Saint Andrews.
Bristol will host a parade on Monday, as well. It will begin at 1 p.m. at the American Legion building on Airport Drive and will follow West Street to the village green.
Vergennes’ two-mile-long parade, perhaps the largest in the state, is scheduled to step off from the Vergennes Union High School at 11 a.m. on Monday. More than 100 units are expected to participate in the parade dominated by 12 marching bands. The parade will follow the same route as previous years winding through the city and ending up at the Vergennes City Park where U.S. Navy Commander Steven Oxholm, a VUHS graduate, will deliver the Memorial Day address.
American Legion Post 14 chose World War II Navy veteran Aileen Weddell of Ferrisburgh (see story, Page 1A) to be marshal of the parade, whose theme is “Keeping Faith With Fallen Heroes.”
A fly-by of F-16 jet fighters from the Vermont Air Guard is expected to occur at the beginning of the parade.
Dennis Steady, post commander of the Vergennes American Legion will be the master of ceremonies at the Vergennes City Park where the Memorial Day services will be held.
The program at the park will include the laying of a wreath at MacDonald’s Monument by Naval veterans William Larrabee and Spencer Norton; invocation by the Rev. Thomas Albaugh, pastor of the Champlain Valley Christian Reformed Church; greetings from the City of Vergennes by Mayor April Jin; recitation of “In Flanders Fields” by Kendall Wycoff of Panton; and reading of the Gettysburg Address by Jonathan Kauffman of Addison. Both Kendall and Jonathan are eighth-grade students at VUHS.
U.S. Navy Capt. (ret.) John Mitchell will introduce Commander Oxholm, who will give the Memorial Day Address.
Following Commander Oxholm’s address, a 21-gun salute will be rendered by members of the Vergennes unit of the Vermont National Guard, all of whom have recently completed a year or more of duty in Iraq. “Taps” will be sounded by buglers Melvin and Aaron Hawley.
Benediction will be offered by Charles Keeley, chaplain of the Vergennes American Legion.
Following the services at the park, the annual chicken barbeque will be held at the Vergennes American Legion under the tent. The public is welcome.