Down-home style parade a North Stonington tradition

Bing Bartlett, rear left, Keith Bressette, center and Ronnie Collins, right, all of North Stonington and volunteers that were spectators at the parade push the stalled vintage 1970 Dodge Challenger owned by Lou and Roberta Hare of Pawcatuck, sitting in the vehicle, during the annual North Stonington Memorial Day Parade along Wyassup Road Monday, May 28, 2012. The classic car once belonged to Roberta's mother.

A picturesque scene of classic Americana unfolded Monday morning as the quaint town of North Stonington celebrated Memorial Day.

Main Street and Route 2 were dotted with spectators, some sitting in beach chairs while others were standing and waving the American flag.

For many in attendance, the parade meant more than just having a day off — it was about tradition and honoring those who paid the ultimate price in serving this country.

"There are a lot of veterans in our family," said Diana Thompson. "This day signifies more than just having a barbecue."

Thompson and her husband, Keith, have been attending the parade for more than 40 years and Monday was no exception. They brought along their two grandchildren and their youngest daughter.

"We feel it's important for our children to learn what today is about," said Thompson.

The parade featured all of the classic staples. There was the high school marching band, fire trucks, antique cars, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Groton Nutmeg Volunteer Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, and Civil War re-enactors.

But for North Stonington a parade also includes tractors, horse-drawn carriages and 4-H floats featuring chickens and geese.

Parade Chairman Thomas Adams said he purposely wanted the event to have a down-home feel to it.

"We wanted to bring a patriotic angle to the parade, but we also wanted to bring about a sense of community," said Adams.
Jenn Hess grew up in North Stonington and has been attending the parade all of her life.

This year she was in attendance with her 5-year-old son, Daniel Premdas, and his friend, Jaden Delzer.

Both boys said they were looking forward to seeing the fire trucks.
"We come for the kids," said Hess. "They have a lot of fun. We all know each other and their relatives and everyone else. We are a small community."

The town's Lions Club sponsored the parade. Retired Lt. Commander Jim Leonaitis served as grand marshal.

At the end of the parade, a brief ceremony was held in front of the Wheeler Gymatorium.

Mary Jane Reissner, who donned a white hat with decorative red, white and blue ribbon, said the parade was a family affair. Her husband, children and grandchildren all participate.

"We do this every Memorial Day," said Reissner. "It really is important to remember those who served this country."



Jupiter Kalinowski, 11, of Norwich, a flagger in the Nutmeg Volunteers Jr. Ancient Fife and Drum Corps., examines blades of grass at the North Stonington Fairgrounds as members prepare to march in the annual North Stonington Memorial Day Parade along Wyassup Road Monday, May 28, 2012.
Jupiter Kalinowski, 11, of Norwich, a flagger in the Nutmeg Volunteers Jr. Ancient Fife and Drum Corps., examines blades of grass at the North Stonington Fairgrounds as members prepare to march in the annual North Stonington Memorial Day Parade along Wyassup Road Monday, May 28, 2012.
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