Wilton Fire Department holds its annual Sept. 11 memorial ceremony (9-11-19). photo courtesy Wilton Fire Dept./Lt. Tom Cassin

Concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19 have prompted the cancellation of two local events that memorialize those killed in the September 11 attacks. Organizers of Connecticut’s United Ride decided in July to cancel the annual motorcycle caravan tribute. Then, just this week, the Wilton Firefighters announced they will be unable to hold their annual ceremony honoring the five Wilton residents, thousands of civilian victims, and heroic first responders who were lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

“State and local rules and policies have been instituted to protect the community and our essential services. Assembling to honor the victims of the September 11 attacks poses a risk to our community and essential services that should not be underestimated,” wrote Wilton firefighter Dave Chaloux, president of Local 2233, IAFF, the firefighters’ union.

Chaloux wrote that planning and preparations were already underway for the annual memorial held at the Wilton Fire Department headquarters, and that union representatives had been working with the officials from both the Fire Department and the Town of Wilton “to determine the appropriateness of holding the annual public memorial during the current pandemic.”

Instead, Wilton’s firefighters will be conducting their remembrances through the group’s Facebook page, inviting Wilton residents and others to join them virtually in “…remembering the events of September 11, 2001 and honoring the sacrifices of our citizens and responders through our social media. We hope that everyone in the Wilton Community will take some time out of their day on Sept. 11, 2020, to do the same.”

President of the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of CT Peter Carozza and CT United Ride executive director Fred Garrity issued a press release in July that read:

“Please know that tremendous effort was made toward creating the best possible “socially distant” safety plan during this pandemic. Unfortunately in the end, after multiple planning and pre-approval meetings, we are unable to confidently provide an even in a fail-safe atmosphere, when the possibilty exists that thousands of people will gather from multiple towns and multiple states, all in one place.”

Both groups vowed to reinstate their events for the 20th anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.