2009-05-21 / Front Page

Memorial Day events promise something for young and old

By Donna K. Drago

Seventy-six trombones in the big parade, with 110 cornets right behind. Well, maybe Jamestown's annual Memorial Day parade isn't quite that big, but it is one of the biggest and best feel-good events that happens on the island every year.

On Monday morning, May 25, activities both festive and solemn will dominate the village scene and provide a chance to either participate in or watch the colorful, musical spectacle.

The first order of business will be erecting the American flags at the East Ferry Veterans Memorial Square. Veterans groups invite all volunteers to help put the flags up at 7 a.m. and take them down again at 3 p.m. Each flag, now more than 100 of them, once draped a casket and was donated by the family of a deceased veteran who was either a native of the island or lived here for many years.

The parade will assemble in front of the Lawn Avenue School at 9:30 a.m. The Jamestown Community Band will provide enthusiastic patriotic and popular music and there will surely be a cadre of classic cars, floats and marchers from all of the island's important groups. It's always fun to see who shows up. The fire department will provide as much noise as they pos- sibly can as the entire fleet - sirens, lights and horns blaring - cruises down Narragansett Avenue. Children are invited to ride atop the fire engines and may board them at the fire station at 9 a.m. or at the school at 9:30. Kids who ride on the trucks should meet their parents at East Ferry following the parade.

The parade will step off at precisely 10 a.m.

The first stop on the route will be at the Town Cemetery at the four corners. There, the names of 24 island veterans who have died since the previous Memorial Day will be read and a flag for each will be placed in the ground to honor their memories. The ceremony will include an invocation by a member of the island's clergy and Taps will be played. The band will play the National Anthem. A rifle squad will fire three volleys and then the parade will resume for a trip down to the Veterans Memorial Square.

Once the parade reaches the Memorial Square, there will be a ceremony to honor fallen comrades. A wreath will be laid upon the bay by commanders of the island's VFW and American Legion posts to remember those lost at sea.

A special tribute with the unveiling of a permanent stone marker for the late Edwin Connelly will be a feature of this year's event. Connelly, an artist, musician and military historian, led the efforts to renovate the Veteran's Memorial Square, which was dedicated on Memorial Day 1997. Connelly is also credited with establishing the Friends of the Conanicut Battery, which created the Battery Park at Prospect Hill, dedicated in June 2002. He was a major player in the effort to restore Fort Adams in Newport. Connelly was also a founding member of the Jamestown Community Band.

Also being honored in this year's ceremony is Second Lieutenant Arthur Curtis Day, who was killed in action in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Day will be remembered in remarks given by his friend and classmate, island resident Francis Curren.

A closing prayer will conclude the ceremony.

The town police department will restrict parking along both sides of Narragansett Avenue from North Road to Conanicus Avenue. The parking ban will run from 6 a.m. to noon. In case of rain, the parade will be cancelled, but the Memorial Day ceremonies will be conducted indoors at the Recreation Center at 10 a.m.

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