Weston will continue its long tradition of combining solemn remembrances with a celebration of the beginning of the summer season this Memorial Day weekend. Events include a road race, the hugely popular and expanded Memorial Day Fair, a parade, and memorial events with the town’s veterans.
“I think the parade and the fair and the whole weekend are quintessential Weston. I love the community spirit that it fosters,” said Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.
The national holiday commemorating the nation’s fallen military members falls on Monday, May 27, this year. On that day, Weston Town Hall, the Weston Public Library, and all schools are closed, as are The Weston Forum’s offices.
Memorial Day has a distinct purpose different from Veterans Day, the November holiday that honors all those who have served in the U.S. military — both living and dead.
Memorial Day originally was called Decoration Day, and always has been a day of observance to remember and honor those who died while in the armed services.
It began in the late 1860s as observances were held to remember those killed during the Civil War. Residents of Waterloo, N.Y., and women’s groups in the South played prominent roles in starting what would later become an official national holiday.
The first official Memorial Day was proclaimed in 1868 by Gen. John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and on May 30 of that year, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
In the coming decades, northern states began recognizing Memorial Day as a state holiday. Southern states were more reluctant to do so until after World War I, when the holiday’s purpose was altered to begin recognizing those killed in all wars, not just the Civil War.
In 1971, a federal law moved the observance of Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May, part of legislation designed to create three-day weekends.
To help remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance resolution in 2000, asking that at 3 p.m. local time all citizens “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect.”
The town of Weston celebrates the holiday in many ways, designed both to honor those who died in service to their country and to celebrate the freedoms Americans enjoy.
Memorial Day fair
The very popular weekend-long Memorial Day fair, a fund-raiser for the elementary and intermediate school PTOs, has been extended from three days to four this year.
The fair, held on the grounds of Hurlbutt Elementary School, opens for the first time on Friday night, running from 6 to 10 p.m. On the following two days, Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26, it will open a bit later than in the past (2 p.m. instead of noon), but it will run later into the night — until 10 p.m. On Monday, the fair runs from noon to 4.
The fair features rides, games, food, local vendors, and entertainment.
As part of the fair festivities, local student bands will perform live on Saturday night. The lineup includes:
4:50 – 5:20: Total Life
5:30 – 6: Whatsername?!
6:10 – 6:40: Locker Jam
6:50 – 7:20: One Takes All
7:30 – 9:30: The School of Rock Fairfield House Band.
As part of the fair, the PTO is also doing an online silent auction through Wednesday, May 29, at 9 p.m. For a complete list of auction items and bidding, visit the Memorial Day fair page at westonpspto.org.
For fair food, the Kiwanis Club of Weston will once again man the grill, and baked goods to eat or take home to share with families and friends will be available in abundance.
At the Kiwanis Club booth, Weston Eagle Scout candidate Alex Gulino (Troop 788) will be setting up a collection bin Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for worn American flags that need to be properly retired. There will also be collection bins on Monday in front of town hall and along the parade route.
Tickets for the fair may be purchased at the gate, including “unlimited-ride” bracelets.
Memorial Day weekend continues bright and early Saturday morning, with a 20-year Weston tradition. Hundreds of runners, walkers, and strollers take to the streets at 8:30 for the Weston Memorial Day 5K Road Race.
The USATF-certified course begins on School Road and winds through Lords Highway and Old Hyde and Norfield roads, before looping back to finish at the high school.
Travelers should expect traffic delays and detours.
The event is the single largest fund-raiser for the Weston High School PTO.
In addition to winners in various age categories, cash prizes are awarded to the top overall finishers, including for the first ($100), second ($50), and third ($25) male and female finishers overall.
A one-mile Kids Fun Run for students in kindergarten through fifth grade will begin at 8 a.m. It features a 440-meter run (one lap of the high school track), a one-mile run (four laps), and a 100-meter sprint and 110-yard dash.
Refreshments will be provided as well as free race T-shirts for the first 500 registrants.
Registration may be done online at weston5k.com or in person the day of the race.
The fee is $30 May 23 and 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Weston High School cafeteria and on race day from 7 to 8 a.m.
The Fun Run fee is $10 in advance or on race day.
Volunteers are always welcome for registration and various activities the day of the event. For more information, visit weston5k.com.
The highlight of the weekend for many is the annual Weston Memorial Day parade, sponsored by the Weston Volunteer Fire Department. This year’s parade, which steps off at 10:45 a.m. on Monday, May 27, will be led by Grand Marshal Al Anderson, one of the town’s few remaining World War II veterans (see story on page one).
Marchers assemble on School Road near the high school beginning at 10. All community organizations are welcome to march or have floats in the parade.
Volunteers willing to lend their convertibles to drive veterans, guests, and dignitaries, as well as those interested in participating in the parade, are encouraged to call parade organizer Lyette Segerdahl at 203-227-8081.
The parade winds down School Road to Weston Center, turning left onto Norfield Road, and ending at Weston Town Hall.
Traditionally, hundreds of Westonites line the parade route to cheer on the town’s veterans and community organizations.
At the end of the parade, at about noon, there will be a brief ceremony with town officials at the gazebo outside town hall and a laying of a ceremonial wreath at the Memorial Stone near the Weston Public Library.
The Fire Department offers free hot dogs to the community at the Norfield firehouse immediately after the ceremony outside town hall.
In case of inclement weather, call 203-222-2641 to check on a rain cancellation of the parade.
All Weston veterans are invited to a complimentary breakfast held at Norfield Congregational Church’s parish hall and sponsored by the Weston Veterans Affairs Committee. Breakfast is at 9.
Veterans are also invited to a complimentary lunch at Norfield parish hall following the ceremony at town hall.