Celebrations Committee Chair Roy Switzler has said that years ago the Veterans Parade was moved from its traditional November date to a weekend in May because it always used to rain, and for the second year in a row that change paid off with dramatic results.
It was another beautifully sunny and warm Wellesley's Wonderful Weekend from May 18-20, including the Veterans Parade that Sunday.
The parade, with a theme this year of celebrating education, honored many educators and longtime supporters of Wellesley Public Schools, as well as town volunteers and employees. The parade, of course, also honored all those from Wellesley and beyond who have served the country in times of war and peace. For example, a group of Korean War veterans who fought together in that conflict rode through in army Jeeps.
As always, Tory DeFazio was the parade's Master of Ceremonies, and, after a brief show by two groups of motorcycle riders, DeFazio arrived in Wellesley Square at the head of the parade, stepped out of a Mustang convertible and climbed the temporary stage at the corner of Washington and Central streets.
Among the many individuals and groups, either on foot or riding on floats, that arrived behind him, and which DeFazio announced, were Michael Elby, Matt King, Steve Gagosian, Sarah Norwood, Rob Shupe and Kathy Mullaney, all of the Permanent Building Committee, who received the Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of their work in helping make the new high school a reality.
The parade's Chief of Staff was Lorelei Kittendorf King, acknowledged for her work in Veterans affairs and for her status as a Veteran. The Community Service Award went to William Charlton, a 15-year member of the Board of Public Works and a past member of the Wellesley Advisory Committee. The Community Appreciation Award went to outgoing and long-time,chairman of the board of World of Wellesley, Richard McGhee.
Five Special Appreciation Awards were handed out: Exceptional Autobody, in recognition of 10 years of providing trucks to the Wellesley Celebrations Committee in support of the Wellesley Veterans' Parade; the Wellesley Trails Committee, for the development and coordination of trails and walks throughout Wellesley; the Sisters of Charity, in recognition of 125 years of dedicated and outstanding service to the general community; Needham Bank, for their impressive 120 years of doing business in Wellesley; and the Girl Scouts of America, which is celebrating 100 years of serving the youth of Wellesley.
In honor of his 12 years of crime-fighting, community service, and community leadership, former Deputy Police Chief Bill Brooks received the Dedicated Service Award. Brooks recently took over as Chief of Police in Norwood.
Most notably, in keeping with this year's theme of education, Brooks and Jeanie Godard were the parade's Grand Marshals. They have served the community in a number of roles, including as long-time Wellesley teachers and, more recently, as coordinators of the "Turn out the Lights" program, which, over the course of several months and especially during a the week of Thanksgiving 2011, paid tribute to the vintage-1938 Gamiel Bradford High School. The Bradford building was replaced this year by a new, state-of-the-art high school.
Other floats and walkers in the parade include floats designed and populated by students and parents from the town's elementary schools and many local nonprofit organizations and businesses. The Wellesley High School marching band strode through in their traditional red uniforms; numerous police, fire, and military outfits; and musical, dance, and other performance groups whose attendance was supported by a number of area businesses.
Political groups and supporters of candidates, as well as candidates themselves, were also among the parade's many walkers, including Senator Scott Brown and supporters of Elizabeth Warren.
They, like the other walkers and all the parade's spectators, enjoyed beautiful weather - courtesy of some forward thinkers who moved the parade to May years ago.