May 28, 2013

Lighting up the night in Old Orchard Beach

Monday's lllumination Night marks the start of summer flag ceremonies to honor veterans.

By Jessica Hall
Staff Writer

and Gillian Graham
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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People walk in Veterans Memorial Park in Old Orchard Beach during Illumination Night on Monday. Illumination bags honoring loved ones from the military are submitted and a fee paid as a fundraiser for the park.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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A bagpiper plays “Amazing Grace” during Monday night’s ceremony honoring fallen troops at Veterans Memorial Park in Old Orchard Beach.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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In the summer, people who are in the park at 6 p.m. tend to stop and watch during the flag ceremonies, said Mary Beth Robillard. Some nights, only committee members come out to recognize a veteran. On a night when no family has arranged for a ceremony, committee members choose someone to honor.

They have recognized all of the veterans listed on the town's memorial, and are now working their way through the list of those with ties to Maine who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rachel Massarelli of Old Orchard Beach tries to attend the flag ceremony every night.

"It's only 10 or 15 minutes a day, and it could change someone's life or mean something more to them than we'll ever know," Massarelli said.

Sheila Lauzon, an Old Orchard Beach resident who works at the Libby Memorial Library, sees committee members preparing for the ceremonies as she leaves work. In 2011, she and her family planned a ceremony to honor her late father, Thomas I. Leavitt, a World War II veteran who was stationed in Hawaii and Tokyo from 1942-45. After the war, he was a police lieutenant in Lowell, Mass., and brought his children to Old Orchard Beach each summer.

Lauzon said her family was able to honor her father by holding the flag ceremony, then doing what he loved most in Old Orchard Beach: heading downtown for pier fries, pizza and games at the arcade.

"It was like coming full circle and being able to give back to him," she said of the ceremony, during which she spoke about her father's legacy.

Lauzon said she is proud to be part of a community that is so dedicated to honoring veterans, whether they have a connection to Old Orchard Beach or not. She is especially moved to see how everything in the park seems to stop, for just a few moments, each night as a veteran is recognized.

"You can't help but stop and give honor to what's happening," Lauzon said. "It's truly beautiful and peaceful."


Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at

Twitter: grahamgillian


Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at


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