FORESTVILLE - Surrounded by shivering grownups on the Central Street Bridge, 3-year-old Lyla Brannigan didn’t mind watching a parade in the rain Sunday.
“I have my new boots on,” she said with a big smile, as the Forestville Memorial Day Parade rounded the corner and came into view.
“It’s cold but fun at the same time,” added Zoe Frenette, 11, huddled under the same umbrella.
Lyla and her sister Ariana, 8, watched for their brother in the procession, walking with his teammates from the Forestville Little League’s Yankees team.
Boys ages 4 to 12 marched together in their uniforms along with coaches and parent volunteers.
“For us it’s just about being out in the community and honoring those who served, giving us the ability to live in a free country,” coach Steve Joslyn said.
Many of the youngsters don’t quite understand the true meaning of Memorial Day yet, he pointed out.
“They haven’t really learned that it’s not just to celebrate the beginning of summer,” Joslyn explained. “But they will.”
Following the boys were a few dozen girls from the Reach for the Stars Academy of Dance in Terryville. Their mothers and fathers stood on the sidewalk, waving while the group performed six different dance combinations, moving along in the lineup.
“This is my daughter’s first year in the parade so she’s excited,” Tricia Guerrera said.
Before the procession actually began, kids and adults from the various community groups intermingled. Many knew each other - if not from around town, than from other parades. They shared a laugh about the chilly rain, acknowledging that they were in it together.
Parade Chairman Chuck Woodin thanked participants as they passed by his tent at the corner of Broad Street. After all, this was the first Memorial Day Parade Forestville had seen in three years.
“The last couple of years we canceled it because of the weather and it ended up being dry,” Woodin said. “This year we decided to take a chance.”
Miss Forestville 2017 sang the National Anthem and members of American Legion Post 209 saluted the flag - or many flags, lining Central Street.
“There’s a lot of remembering of the past that comes to the forefront on this day each year,” Legion member Robert Getz said. “Us vets just want to keep serving any way we can, even from the home front.”
Getz, who served in the Navy from 1969 to 1973, joined other Post members on the parade committee.
Legion Auxiliary Senior Vice President Jennifer McLeod carried a handheld radio, communicating with those along the route. In her role at the American Legion, McLeod is raising awareness about those who came back from the Vietnam War and are still dealing with health problems from exposure to Agent Orange.
In honor of Memorial Day, she was thinking of all who lost their lives, on the battlefield and back home.
“It’s all about remembering our fallen heroes,” McLeod said.
The Bristol Memorial Day Procession kicks off today at 9 a.m. on Race Street, proceeding down North Main Street to the Boulevard. American Legion Post 2 will serve a meal for veterans following the post-parade ceremony.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.