BRISTOL - Well before thousands of feet marched up Central Street in Forestville Sunday, there was music in the air.
First, the Forestville Memorial Day Parade opened with ceremonial taps. Then Miss Forestville Jaymie Bianca sang “God Bless America” before local high school students shared their musical talents with performances of “God Bless the USA” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Finally the procession began, as marching bands, fife and drum corps and local Boy Scout troops made their way through the village in celebration of Memorial Day.
“This is the first year the mini cheerleaders are joining the older cheerleaders,” Jesse Gumpert said as his daughter, Joy Gumpert, prepared to perform alongside fellow students from St. Joseph’s School.
The 7-year-old is a mini cheerleader and it was her first time being in the parade.
Seventh-grader Kate Marchak and eighth-grader Sarah Roberts led the pack, holding a banner announcing St. Joseph’s float.
“It’s so much fun,” Marchak said. “I love watching the kids and having fun with them. This is what it’s about.”
They were in line behind The Connecticut Patriots, a fife and drum corps based in Plainville.
“We’ve done four parades this weekend,” said fife player Carrie Costa, who lives in New Britain. “This is my first time in Forestville.”
Fellow musician Paula Degree said she came all the way from her home in Cape Cod to take part.
“Hometown parades like this are nice because all of the local groups are here,” Degree said.
Bristol Central High School’s marching band wore their long-sleeved maroon and black uniforms they perform in at fall football games, despite the day’s 80 degree temperatures.
“It’s hot, but it’s fun,” freshman Kaiya Yuschak said.
Band Director John Abucewicz’s wife, Danielle, pinned a student’s pants so she wouldn’t trip while marching.
“It’s an awesome experience for the kids,” Danielle said of the parade.
They performed “Veterans Salute” - a compilation of different patriotic-themed music.
Bristol Police and Fire Departments were the parade’s front runners, leading and guiding the procession.
Fire Lieutenant Kevin Mason carried a shiny axe, imprinted with the official seal of the International Association of Firefighters.
“This axe is just for parades,” Mason explained. “We have other axes we take out on calls.”
Firefighters marched their honor guard and assisted with laying a wreath at the veterans’ memorial on the green.
Meanwhile, Wanda Houston and the Scott Heth quintet performed a patriotic musical program on Memorial Boulevard. The Bristol Historical Society and Team Bristol presented this outdoor concert, which featured music from the Revolutionary War era all the way up to the Vietnam War era.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.