Trumbull Memorial Day celebration plans in limbo

TRUMBULL — Town officials are taking a cautious approach to a potential Memorial Day commemoration this year.

Event organizer Kathleen McGannon said she is proceeding with plans for a parade and also for an alternative outdoor event, possibly at Indian Ledge Park.

“That’s my job today, reaching out to all the groups to see who’s interested in marching,” McGannon said Monday.

If the town holds a parade, it would be at its traditional 10 a.m. time slot on Memorial Day, which is May 31.

First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said she’s optimistic about the parade considering Gov. Ned Lamont last week said graduations and parades would be allowed this year and because of the state’s progress in distributing COVID-19 vaccinations.

But the logistics of planning such an event on a compressed timetable remained a challenge, she said.

“In either case, we will do a ceremony for the veterans on the morning of the 31st at the Veterans Memorial and at Town Hall,” she said.

Lamont said last week he expected 60 percent of residents age 16 and older to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within the next few weeks. With those numbers, and a general leveling-off of the state’s coronavirus infection numbers, outdoor graduations and parades would be allowed unless “something dramatic” changes, he said.

“I know that’s important to a lot of you as you want to plan ahead. So plan on it,” Lamont said.

But even with the green light from Lamont, challenges remain. According to town officials, those include: Parade participants and viewers would still have to abide social distancing and mask requirements; school bands haven’t performed in a year, and many have not even had full practices in months; other school groups, looking forward to an in-person graduation, might not want to take any chances on large-scale events just a few weeks before the end of school; regional groups like fife and drum corps that march in multiple parades each year may not be willing to travel from town to town.

McGannon, who has been in regular contact with Memorial Day committees in neighboring towns, said municipalities that hold parades may find that they are smaller and more locally focused than previous years.

The Shelton-Derby Parade Committee, which confirmed its plans for an in-person parade on May 31, announced the parade will be rain or shine, and no matter how many marchers were included in the lineup. The committee’s chairman, James “Chic” Tortora, said about 40 groups had agreed to march. This is about half of the 80 marching groups that participated in 2019, the most recent parade.

Monroe First Selectman Ken Kellogg has also announced his town will hold a parade May 30, but offered few other details.

McGannon said most of the towns were still scrambling to make plans, even after they announced the date and time of their parade. She said she did not expect Trumbull to have a final decision for a few weeks.

“That will give us enough time to see how the trends are going and what the vaccination numbers look like,” she said. “Also, we’ll have a better idea of whether there is going to be another surge after the kids get back from spring break.”

If the parade cannot be held, the proposed alternatives include an outdoor ceremony on the lawn at Indian Ledge Park with music and a speaking program. The expansive outdoor space features a gazebo/band shell and has held crowds of more than 6,000 for concerts featuring the Beach Boys, Chicago and Hall & Oates.

deng@trumbulltimes.com