The Doughboy statue on Veterans Green downtown, where a Memorial Day service is planned on the green after this year’s Memorial Day Parade. / Photo by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The town will honor the nation’s fallen service men and women Monday, May 30, with a parade and observance afterward.

The Board of Selectwomen approved the use of town roads for the annual Memorial Day Parade at its meeting Wednesday morning.

The request came from the Parks and Recreation Department, which organizes the parade with local veterans’ groups.

Cyndi Palaia, program manager with Parks and Recreation Department, said the traditional parade route through downtown has not changed. 

The parade was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“But as we witnessed last year, it was like the best parade ever,” Palaia said, “because we were all back in person. We had a great time and we hope we’ll be able to do that again.”

The parade will step off about 9 a.m. from Saugatuck Elementary School on Riverside Avenue, heading north. The procession will turn right onto Post Road West and cross the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, turning left on Myrtle Avenue, past a reviewing stand in front of Town Hall. The parade then turns left onto Main Street and ends at Parker Harding Plaza.

A Memorial Day service will take place immediately after the parade on Veterans Green, between Myrtle Avenue and Main Street.

Bill Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council, said by phone after the meeting that turnout for last year’s parade was remarkable.

“It was probably the biggest watched paraded I can ever remember,” he said. “I think everyone wanted to get out and have something to do.”

He said a grand marshal for this year’s event has not yet been chosen. He said for about the last 10 or 12 years, the grand marshals have been World War II vets.

But as time passes they are becoming scarce.

“We are looking for Westport World War II veterans,” Vonkahl said. “If anybody knows of give me a call.”

His number is 203-227-3512.

Veterans Green, between Main Street and Myrtle Avenue, where a Memorial Day service is planned after this year’s Memorial Day Parade. / Photo by Thane Grauel

Groups wishing to participate in the parade should contact the Parks and Recreation Department, he said.

The observance of Memorial Day started shortly after the Civil War. It is now observed on the last Monday of May, and became a federal holiday in 1971.

Selectwoman Andrea Moore asked at the meeting how many years Westport has held the parade. 

Palaia wasn’t sure, but Vornkahl said later he believes Westport began holding the Memorial Day parade in the 1930s.