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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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On Memorial Day, Fairfield unfurls annual salute to the nation's fallen

Published 8:32 am, Friday, May 23, 2014

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  • Plans are in place for the town's annual Memorial Day Parade, which steps off Monday at 10 a.m. from South Pine Creek Avenue, and makes its way down the Post Road and Old Post Road to the reviewing stand in front of Old Town Hall. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    Plans are in place for the town's annual Memorial Day Parade, which steps off Monday at 10 a.m. from South Pine Creek Avenue, and makes its way down the Post Road and Old Post Road to the reviewing stand in front of Old Town Hall. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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Memorial Day in Fairfield will be a day filled with pancakes, a parade and a picnic.

The annual parade steps off at 10 a.m. Monday, led by four marshals this year: Rolf Marx, from American Legion Post 74; Peter Luzetsky, of American Legion Post 143; Joe Lebinski, from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9427; and Tim Kelly, from the Disabled Amercian Veterans.

"We get a tremendous amount of people," said Thomas Quinn, the Memorial Day Parade Committee chairman. "From what I hear, it's one of the largest crowds in Connecticut, if not the largest."

Other weekend events include a memorial sea ceremony on Saturday morning at South Benson Marina and a Knights of Columbus memorial Mass on Sunday at Our Lady of the Assumption Church,

The parade -- with many units reflecting the celebratory theme of the town's 375th anniversary -- starts on the Post Road at South Pine Creek Road, and continues east through downtown, turns right onto Old Post Road at the Fairfield Public Library, continues past the reviewing stand in front of Old Town Hall, and disbands at South Benson Road.

Among the participants in the parade will be a long line of marchers, floats, bands, armed forces veterans, Little League teams, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, classic cars, civic clubs and the Pyramid Shriners Motor Patrol, a perennial favorite.

"The townspeople have really gravitated toward it," Quinn said, of the parade. "It's very patriotic and we're honoring people who served and died. People are a lot more sensitive these days to the sacrifices people have made."

Quinn said he thinks another one of the parade's attraction is the tradition.

"Every year, the volunteer committee, along with (Town Clerk) Betsy Browne, really work hard in putting together all of the bands and marching groups," he said. "That makes a difference."

There is no rain date for the parade, but Quinn isn't worried about the weather, unlike three years ago.

"It was raining all night and all morning," he recalled. "That was dicey, but I said, `No, we're going to march,' and the clouds broke and the sun came out."

Rotary Club members will be along the parade route to collect donations for its food drive.

For anyone looking for some sustenance before the parade, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 661 Old Post Road, right next to the reviewing stand, will host its traditional pancake breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to noon, with proceeds benefitting the church's outreach programs.

For those who work up an appetite during the parade, the Fairfield Museum and History Center's annual Community Picnic takes place from noon to 3 p.m. Bring blankets and picnic baskets for an afternoon of exhibitions, games, sack races, watermelon eating contests and more. Refreshments also will be sold by the Kiwanis Club and the Brick Oven pizza truck. There is no charge to attend, and the museum will also be open with free admission.

Saturday, Sunday events

Prior to Monday's events, the annual Memorial Sea Ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at the South Benson Marina gas dock, with a special dedication to the late David W. Russell, the former fire chief, who was one of the event's founders.

A highlight of the ceremony will be the laying of a memorial wreath in Long Island Sound amid a flotilla of boats.

On Sunday, the Knights of Columbus, Assumption Council #11077, will sponsor its 20th annual Memorial Day Service at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, 545 Stratfield Road.

The service will start at noon with a memorial Mass celebrated by Monsignor Ernest Esposito. A military service to honor the war dead will take place on the parish grounds immediately following the Mass.