Vergennes Memorial Day parade returns

Published: May. 30, 2022 at 7:58 AM EDT
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VERGENNES, Vt. (WCAX) - COVID lingers but Memorial Day parades are back, including the historic Vergennes parade which has been going on for more than 70 years.

“For the first time in three years, thousands of people lined the streets of Vergennes eagerly awaiting the Memorial Day parade.

“Those who have died -- we don’t want to forget what they’ve given their lives in order to ensure our freedom,” said Perry Melvin with the Marine Corps League.

“I think it’s very important that we remember the sacrifices that others made for our freedom and be prepared to make those same sacrifices ourselves,” said Thomas Henken of Alabama.

The community of Vergennes patriotically remembered those who died during the community’s first Memorial Day parade since 2019. “I feel like we are all adapting to what the new normal is and the more events that go on that are safe and work, I think the more comfortable people will feel... and I think that’s what’s needed to start moving forward,” said Martha DeGraaf, the parade’s coordinator.

The parade was full of all the old standbys -- firetrucks, tractors, music, and plenty of smiles as people gathered once again. “We get to see people we know and get to wave and see some of our favorite people in the parade and stuff,” said Olivia.

“The kids love it. The bands are great. Just the fire trucks and the local flavor -- it’s a wonderful parade,” said Jennifer Henken of Vergennes.

“The atmosphere -- it’s just plain wonderful. Everybody is having a good time and everyone is just enjoying themselves. You don’t see that very often in our country anymore. This is special,” said veteran Norbert Lavinge, 86.

After several years of staying apart, it was also a chance for the Vergennes Swim Team to put together a float for the parade and celebrate being 2021 state champions. “It’s nice to be able to be with my friends again and be with all the littler kids and help inspire them to like swimming. It’s good because doing this helps make our swim team even stronger,” said Acadia Clark, a sophomore.

This year’s theme was “Home of the free, because of the brave” -- a reminder of the thousands who have given their lives for our freedom.

“Seeing the things that we do as a country to help protect ourselves but to help others -- it’s great,” said Russell Sherman with the American Legion.

Organizers are hoping for an even bigger showing next year.

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