NORTH HAVEN — Hundreds of people lined the streets for the annual Memorial Day parade, marked this year by special anniversaries and dedications.
Maureen Paquette attended the parade in honor of her husband Larry Paquette, a Vietnam veteran who died 10 years ago from a heart attack related to Agent Orange exposure, she said.
A North Haven native, his name is on the Town Green’s Vietnam War monument.
“He always liked the parade,” Paquette said. “Sometimes he’d march in it, but he liked watching it.”
In the past, she’s participated in the parade as a tramp clown, she said, but now she invites friends to attend and watch with her.
Karen Scheiber, of Northford, was invited by Paquette and said she also plans to attend North Branford’s parade Monday.
“I love the beautiful weather,” Scheiber said. “I look forward to seeing all the different groups going through (and I) like hearing the music.”
The day’s events began around 9 a.m. with a procession from the Murray-Reynolds American Legion Post 76 across Church Street to the Town Green veterans’ memorials.
Commander Charles Morrissey lead a service, attended by about 60 people, that included a wreath placing, a prayer by Chaplain Vanessa Rutledge and bagpipes by George Thomson.
First Selectman Michael Freda was joined for his remarks by Second Selectman William Pieper, Third Selectman Sally Buemi, State Rep. David Yaccarino and State Senators Len Fasano and Martin Looney.
“Let’s never forget the solemn aspect of today,” Freda said. “Those who have given their lives to allow us to live in the life, liberty and freedoms that we have today, all of us here are truly appreciative of everything the veterans do, and have done.”
Morrissey read the names of 17 Legionnaires who died in the past year during a bell ceremony, including former North Haven selectmen Richard Parrett, an Air Force veteran who was First Selectman from 1969-1971, and Howard Luppi, an Army veteran who served as Second Selectman for 15 years.
The Daytime Gardeners of North Haven unveiled a Blue Star Memorial on the Town Green, a project sponsored by National Garden Clubs with local support from the Town of North Haven, the American Legion Post 76, Arnold’s Jewelers and Gould Insurance Group.
A new town memorial dedicated to post-Vietnam veterans is expected to be completed next month.
The Blue Star Memorial Program recognizes all past, current and even future members of the United States Armed Services.
Sally Brockett, of the Daytime Gardeners, said the group started planning the memorial in the fall.
“As I approached the various people in town, they were not only enthusiastic, they were very helpful and very cooperative,” Brockett said.
North Haven’s marker is the 14th to be dedicated statewide, and two more are slated to be dedicated in other towns next month, she said.
After the memorial service, droves of people arrived with lawn chairs to sit along the parade route. Kids played tag, lost balloons and tossed footballs. The Corinthian Masonic Lodge sold hot dogs and soda, and ice cream trucks parked on side streets.
Many local civic and community groups joined state and regional groups for the 1.5-mile parade, which kicked off at North Haven High School and arrived around 10:50 a.m. at the Town Green.
The police department is marking its 75th anniversary this year, and about 30 officers marched in the parade. They were joined by Third Selectman Sally Buemi.