WESTBROOK – It seems fitting that a major anniversary of Westbrook’s Together Days will coincide with observances of two integral pieces of the city’s identity – veterans and local history.

On Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31, the 35th Together Days festival will combine major celebrations for Memorial Day and Westbrook’s bicentennial celebration. The festival will be highlighted by a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Because it became apparent that the three events – Memorial Day, Together Days and the bicentennial observance – would take place on three consecutive weekends, organizers decided to combine the city’s usual Memorial Day parade with Together Days, and put an added emphasis on both the city’s veterans and Westbrook’s 200th birthday.

City Clerk Lynda Adams, who has led the bicentennial event planning, said this week that while she has received mixed messages from residents concerning the combined events, the Together Days celebration and parade have been planned with veterans in mind.

Adams said the combined events were a mutual decision made between organizers and American Legion representatives.

“This was not a decision made by the mayor, and it was not canceled due to lack of funds, which are the two rumors circulating out there,” she said. “The reason we are combining them is to give even more recognition to our veterans.”

Although the Memorial Day parade will shift to May 31 with Together Days, there will still be events this Monday, May 26, honoring veterans, including ceremonies at Woodlawn Cemetery and Riverbank Park at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.

Adams said Tuesday that she believes the upcoming events will see “higher attendance than normal” and that she “fully anticipates the parade will be larger this year. I hope residents will show their support for our Veterans by coming out to both the events on Memorial Day and to applaud them in our Together Days/Bicentennial parade.”

Krista Martin, a Together Days committee member charged with organizing the parade, said Wednesday that the combination of events has led to a larger parade operation than in past years.

“It’s going to be a spectacular event,” she said. “I think it is really going to come together nice, especially for the veterans.”

Martin said the start of the parade will be dedicated to veterans, and there will be more flatbed floats than normal, including floats organized by the school department and Drouin Dance Center.

The Westbrook Woman’s Club, the original organizer of Together Days 35 years ago, will be represented during the parade with a float, and members will serve as the honorary grand marshals.

Martin added that the parade will again feature a motorcycle procession of combat veterans. The parade begins on Lincoln Street, heads down Bridge Street and continues up Main Street, where it ends at Riverbank Park.

Andrew Cook, the president of the Westbrook/Gorham Community Chamber, which organizes the event, said the committee has put in months of hard work preparing, and that he is hearing good things from residents.

“This year’s event is something I am really personally looking forward to, and the 35th anniversary coinciding with the bicentennial for the city certainly adds to the entire weekend,” he said.

Cook also believes the combined parade will provide a welcome celebration for Westbrook residents.

“The parade is lining up to be massive,” he said. “We want the weekend to be a celebration for the city of Westbrook, and this could easily be the largest parade the city has seen in over two or three decades.”

Cook added that they are also working hard to incorporate the importance of the Memorial Day parade into Together Days.

Friday evening’s event highlights include local bands The Waiters and Motor Booty Affair, along with carnival activities and hot air balloon rides courtesy of Remax Alliance.

On Saturday, the all-day celebration includes the Run the Brook 5K, parade, and music performances by Rick Charette, Tony Boffa and more. Fireworks will cap off the evening.

Cook said another major attraction on Saturday will be a performance group known as Vocal Trash, of Texas, which will headline the night’s entertainment from 8:30-10 p.m. According to Cook, the group presents themselves as “‘Glee’ meets ‘Stomp.’ ”

On Monday, June 9, the city will celebrate the bicentennial during an event at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center at Westbrook Middle School. The contents of a time capsule, buried in Riverbank Park a century ago during Westbrook’s centennial celebration, will be opened, and there will be performances by the Westbrook City Band.

The celebration will also kick off a campaign to fill a new time capsule to be buried in Riverbank Park at the end of the year.


Westbrook Memorial Day observance

8 a.m. – American Legion observances at Veterans Circle and Stephen W. Manchester grave at Woodlawn Cemetery on Stroudwater Street.

10 a.m. – Ceremony with American Legion posts 62 and 197 at Riverbank Park on Main Street. Mayor Colleen Hilton will speak; Westbrook City Band; soloist Junie Dugas; Phil Spiller Jr. will read Logan’s Order; Bob Barton, the Gettysburg Address. Wayne Newbegin, commander of Westbrook Memorial Post 197, will be the master of ceremonies.


Gorham Memorial Day observance:

9 a.m. – VFW Post 10879 observance at Hillside Cemetery on Huston Road.

10 a.m. – Parade forms up at Village School on Robie Street.

11 a.m. – Parade steps off from Lincoln Street onto South Street halting for laying of wreaths at Phinney Park; parade turns onto Main Street and proceeds to Eastern Cemetery, corner of Main Street and Johnson Road, for a ceremony.


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