There is no underestimating how much people love a parade, and in Chelsea, the City and Girl Scouts have learned that such an affair can truly bring out more people to honor the service of military veterans and those who never returned from war.
This year’s Memorial Day Services on Monday morning went off with nary a hitch once again this year, and the services were enhanced for the second year in a row by the Girl Scout Parade prior to the ceremonies.
Nearly everyone commented that attendance had increased since last year’s first-ever parade, and those who have been around for a while noted that 10 years ago, there would have only been a fraction of Monday’s crowd in attendance.
City Manager Jay Ash said he was proud of the turnout, and felt the City had outdone itself for the second year in a row.
“Our service men and women, and especially those who gave their lives in service to our country, deserve our best efforts,” said Ash. “The Girl Scouts and those who participated in the parade did a great job in getting us all in the spirit of the day. The parade participants and those who were at City Hall for our annual exercises then contributed to what I can only described as the highlight event of the year so far.
“The feeling was great, as we paid tribute to the heroes among us, and enjoy the fellowship of our great community,” he continued. “Certainly the highlight was the participation of the Chelsea Public School kids, especially the band, which sounded great. There are many days when I think to myself how proud I am to be from Chelsea. Memorial Day was one of those days, as the celebration enjoyed by the entire community, young and old, veterans and not, was so very special.”
Girl Scout leaders said they felt the same way, and will use that feeling to build up excitement for next year’s efforts.
“We feel the parade was another success and there were more people participating and a few people along the parade route to watch,” said Girl Scout leaders Elaine Cusick and Elaine Teixeira. “Now, pretty soon, we’ll start planning for next year.”
The Girl Scouts have been planning this year’s effort for several months, with the girls of the City’s numerous troops taking the lead on the effort.
This year, they nominated long-time former School Committeeman Morrie Seigal as the Parade Marshall. Seigal, who is also a veteran of World War II, was flattered.
“They chose me for some reason and I suppose I’ll accept,” he said with a laugh just before the parade began at 8:15 a.m. on Monday.
For the record, Seigal marched the entire parade route from Welch’s Funeral Home to City Hall. Once at City Hall, he was also the keynote speaker for the official City Ceremony.
Others represented in the parade were the Pop Warner, Chelsea Black Community, Chelsea Kiwanis, Little League, Sheriff Steve Tompkins and many more.
The larger than normal turnout at the services were credited to the knitting together of so many of Chelsea’s different groups – including the Chelsea schools, the scouting programs, the CHS Band, the DAV, the PAV and numerous other organizations. Those groups marched in the parade, and then stayed on for the services – learning about the sacrifices given by veterans of the military.
The CHS Band sounded better than ever, and even ventured out into uncharted territory with a drum cadence at the outset played on metal trash cans.
Wright Middle School 8th graders Taylysha Soto and Frankie Rodriguez recited the poem, ‘This Land We Love.’ Meanwhile, fourth graders Alvin Rivera (Hooks School), Arianna Alexandre (Berkowitz School), Gabriella Blanco (Kelly School) and David Camarena (Sokolowski School) educated the audience on the lives of the veterans for whom their respective schools are named.
Elected officials also gave comments, including Ash, City Councillor Leo Robinson, State Rep. Gene O’Flaherty, State Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, and School Supt. Mary Bourque.
Seigal gave the keynote speech, and noted that he served in the South Pacific during World War II, but had a key moment as a veteran much later in life at a hotel in Florida. He explained that only a few years ago, he encountered Army medics at a Florida hotel and thanked them for their service. After they learned of his service in WWII, they turned around and gave him all the honors.
“I still remember what that young soldier said to me, ‘Sir, you don’t have to thank me,'” remembered Seigal. “‘I should be thanking you.’ He told me that because of our victory in World War II, all of us are ensured the freedoms we have today in our country.”
The City’s veterans organizations, including the DAV and the PAV, performed the laying of wreaths with all the solemnity that the moment deserved – with PAV Commander Roman Pucko leading that most sacred part of the services.
‘Taps’ was performed by CHS band member Austin Tevenal, and ‘Amazing Grace’ followed that played on the bagpipes by an unknown member of the Chelsea Fire Department.
Many also thanked Veterans Agent Francisco Toro for coordinating and putting together the City’s services.