WESTBROOK – Final preparations are being made this week leading up to the 35th annual Together Days festival in Westbrook, which for years has served as an informal kickoff to summer. However, this year the event is also kickstarting a celebration of all things Westbrook in connection with the city’s 200th birthday.

Since the parade also is the Memorial Day parade, special emphasis will be placed on veterans. The Westbrook Woman’s Club, which is responsible for founding the original Westbrook Together Days in 1979, is also being featured.

This weekend’s festivities, beginning Friday afternoon in Riverbank Park, will be highlighted by a parade Saturday, featuring floats honoring veterans, volunteers, students and more.

Norma Manning, president of the Westbrook Woman’s Club, said Tuesday that the organization will have a heavy presence during the festival, especially during Saturday’s parade, where they’ll have two vehicles and a full-size float dedicated to the club.

Manning said the float will feature about 25 club members who are planning to ride during the parade, with another four or five carrying a banner. The two vehicles will carry some of the club’s older members, who are 90 and older.

“I believe we’re going to have a very nice presence in the parade this year,” she said.

The Westbrook Woman’s Club, which currently has 66 members, is responsible for noticeable volunteer efforts in the city. Following the parade, the group will have a booth in Riverbank Park offering baked goods in return for donations to the Wounded Warrior project, a veteran support organization.

“We were very interested and hopeful to be involved in this, as it is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the city of Westbrook,” Manning said. “We really wanted to be a part of that celebration, as we do so many things for the elderly, the students, and the people of Westbrook. We felt that it would be exciting to be a part of this history.”

Andrew Cook, president of the Westbrook/Gorham Community Chamber, the group charged with organizing the event, said Wednesday that it has been “great” to have the club involved in the parade and has helped by having a member on the planning committee.

“It speaks to the testament of that organization that 35 years later they are still involved in something they started,” he said.

The club will also be serving as the honorary grand marshals for the parade.

With an added emphasis on veterans, due to the consolidating of the Together Days and Memorial Day parades, Saturday’s event will spotlight those who served Westbrook and the country, and according to City Clerk Lynda Adams, it mimics the setup of the city’s centennial parade in 1914.

The parade will again feature a motorcycle procession of combat veterans.

Riding down Main Street this weekend will also be employees and students from the Westbrook School Department.

Mayor Colleen Hilton said Tuesday that while the event’s history of weather trouble looks like it might continue (the forecast at the American Journal’s deadline Wednesday is calling for possible showers Friday and some clouds Saturday), she’s optimistic that the majority of residents will enjoy the event, including its combined format.

“I think with all the different groups coming together, this is the best plan and a lot of people have worked really hard to make it something really special,” she said. “I’m hearing great things about the numbers of floats and people coming.”

The weekend will also feature live entertainment on both Friday and Saturday evenings, including Motor Booty Affair, Rick Charette, Lincoln Continental, and the Tony Boffa Band. Saturday morning will feature a 5K fun run, and following the parade will be the festival’s annual fundraising auction at noon. A musical highlight will be the premiere of a new recording by Al Hawkes called “Song of Westbrook,” which features students from the Westbrook Middle School. Hawkes and the students are scheduled to perform at 3 p.m. As always, the crowd-favorite fireworks show will cap off the festival on Saturday night.

Bill Baker, Westbrook’s assistant city administrator for business and community relations, said Wednesday that he’s hoping the combined events could be beneficial in attracting more festivalgoers.

“My expectation is that the more complex nature of this event, by virtue of combining these three things, will make it even more celebratory and successful in terms of putting feet on the street of the downtown,” he said.

The Westbrook Woman’s Club, which is responsible for founding the original Westbrook Together Days in 1979, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the event in the 2004 parade.  

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