Despite the challenges caused by Hurricane Sandy, New England’s largest salute to veterans will take place this Sunday, Nov. 4 at 12:30 p.m. at the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade.
The 13th annual parade will step off near the State Capitol Building in Hartford. The following Sunday, Nov. 11, is the national observance of Veterans Day when many of the marchers will participate in ceremonies in their own towns and cities.
Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to come and show their appreciation to veterans and active personnel from many conflicts.
“This parade is a very poignant tribute to the dedicated servicemen and women of all conflicts who stepped forward so we that can continue to enjoy our freedom,” explains Paul F. Pendergast, President of the Connecticut Veterans Parade and a U.S. Air Force veteran. “We encourage people from all corners of Connecticut and beyond to come line the streets and say ‘Thank You’ for their sacrifices.”
Special features will include a 1:30 p.m. Moment of Silence when the parade pauses in observance of veterans who died while serving their country, followed by the tolling of churchbells. A Wreath-Laying Ceremony to remember veterans will be held at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at 11:30 a.m., before the parade.
Parade volunteers will hand out American flags to spectators, and sell 2012 commemorative lapel pins shaped like dog tags for $4 at booths on Atheneum Square near the Main Street reviewing stand. Proceeds from lapel pin sales help pay for parade operations. The information booth also will have “Thank You, Veterans” materials that people can hold high as the parade marches by.
The 2012 Parade Grand Marshal is Lieutenant Colonel Michael Zacchea of Brookfield, a veteran of the U.S. Marines who runs the University of Connecticut’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, and is director of veterans’ outreach and support for UConn’s Graduate School of Business.
The three Honorary Grand Marshals are: Captain Dori (Zink) Freer of Shelton, who flew helicopters for the U.S. Navy for 26 years and now is Senior Program Manager at Sikorsky Aircraft, overseeing its UH-60M Utility Blackhawk and HH-60M MEDEVAC product lines; Flight Officer Connie Nappier, Jr. of New Britain, a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps and member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen; and Major Frank A. Tantillo of Tolland, a member of the Connecticut Guard who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Full descriptions about each of the four Parade Marshals can be found at www.ctveteransparade.org.
Daniel Williams, a 7th grader from Hamden Middle School in Hamden will ride in a vehicle in the parade. He is the First Prize winner in the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade’s student essay contest, presented by The Navy League of the U.S. – Hartford Council and the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Day Committee in Washington, D.C. has recognized the “2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade” as one of the nation’s official “Veterans Day Regional Sites” for the third consecutive year. The parade is one of only 62 entities in the entire U.S. and the only Connecticut recipient of this prestigious honor.
The colorful parade is organized by a nonprofit collaboration of veterans’ groups, corporations, local municipalities, businesses and civic organizations. The Connecticut National Guard assists with the management of parade logistics, and the City of Hartford hosts the event. Many of the members of the Parade Planning Committee have been involved in the parade since its inception in 2000.
The 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade will begin near the Connecticut State Capitol at the intersection of Buckingham St. and Washington St., and travel north up Trinity Street and through the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. Marchers will then make a right onto Pearl Street, then make a right onto Main Street where it will pass a reviewing stand at the corner of Main & Gold Streets across from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and finally will make a right onto Capitol Avenue where it will end at Hudson Street. The event is expected to last for 2 to 2½ hours.
Several Downtown Hartford parking garages and surface lots will offer discounted or free parking on parade day. There is no cost on Sundays to park at Downtown Hartford street meters, except in restricted areas.
Donations to support and produce the parade are welcome year-round and can be made online at www.ctveteransparade.org or by calling the Parade office at (860) 986-7254.
For more details including a map of the parade route for the November 4 “Connecticut Veterans Parade”, go to www.ctveteransparade.org or call the Parade Info Phone at (860) 986-7254. More info at Facebook: Connecticut Veterans Parade, and Twitter: CTVetsParade.