Willington hosts annual Memorial Day parade

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Willington - posted Wed., May. 29, 2013
First Selectwoman Christina Beebe Mailhos and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman greet each other before events get underway. Photos by Kitty LeShay.
First Selectwoman Christina Beebe Mailhos and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman greet each other before events get underway. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

On Memorial Day, Willington residents were joined by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman in honoring those who served their country, many of whom have died fighting in foreign lands. They gathered on a sparkling spring day on the historic Willington Green and in the nearby cemetery. The May 27 remembrances were sponsored by the town and Veterans of Foreign Wars - Corporal Henry Toberman Post 938. Toberman was the first Willington soldier to fall in the Great War (1914-18).

While every year new people come to the observation, many have been participating for years. Dale Dyer, a life-long resident, remembered carrying the flag for the Girl Scouts 51 years ago. “There used to be a doll carriage parade that I participated in as well,” she said.

First Selectwoman Christina Beebe Mailhos has a long history of honoring veterans on Memorial Day. “I have marched as a Brownie Scout, as member of the Hall Memorial School Band, as the daughter of the parade marshal, and now as selectwoman, and have been proud to march in whatever role I had,” she said.

There are many civic and non-profit groups who participate in the parade from the green to the cemetery. They include the Ladies Auxiliary, the Hall Memorial School Band, Color Guard, VFW Post 938, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, 4-H, Future Farmers of America, Willington Little League and the Willington Volunteer Fire Department.

Ray Gantick, the parade marshal, has been fulfilling this role for years. After opening remarks on the green, the parade and spectators walk to the cemetery on Route 74, where Gantick offers prayers for those who have fallen, a wreath is laid and “Taps” is played.

Some people take the opportunity to visit graves of relatives. Jim Malia was doing that with his fiancée Jessica Collins and her daughter, Kailee. “My father, George Malia, was a WWII vet and my uncle Keith Malia served in Vietnam,” he said.

“This is not just national barbecue day," Collins added.

Following the ceremony at the cemetery, people again gathered on the green to hear music, listen to some historic readings and some Memorial Day remarks by Selectman John Blessington.

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