Keep an eye out for an antique crane making its first appearance in Wilton’s Memorial Day Parade. There’s a very meaningful connection the crane has to a Wilton native who may not have had the chance to serve in the armed forces, but who many will be remembering all the same.
The crane has been refurbished and rebuilt in memory of Nicholas Parisot, a 13-year-old Wilton boy who was killed in 2008 by John “Tully” Knight, who was 12-years-old at the time.
The crane has been lovingly restored by friends of the Parisot family because of its deep connection to Nick. His father, Rick Parisot, had purchased it from the Gilbert and Bennett wire mill when the mill shut down in 1989, and moved it to some property he owned in the Adirondacks with the intention of rebuilding it. Nick had loved the crane as a young child, climbing over it and pretending to operate it.
After Nick’s death, the crane carried too many memories, and Rick considered demolishing it for scrap until his close friend, Rich Ruggles, said he wanted to restore the crane in Nick’s memory.
Ruggles, who grew up in Wilton with Rick and Nick’s mom, Kate Throckmorton, happens to be a crane operator. He pulled together other Parisot family friends in Wilton–Kevin Craw, John Tomasiewicz and Chris Lavin–who have lovingly and with dedication worked to restore the crane.
“We went up, dragged it out of a swamp, got it running. We put it on a trailer, and we brought it home, about a year and half ago,” Ruggles says.
They’ve spent many, many hours working on the crane where it’s been stored for the last year–in the narrow alley between Napa Auto Parts and the Citgo gas station on Danbury Rd.–and they’ve documented it on the Nicholas Parisot Crane Restoration Facebook page.
The crane will return to life for the parade, bearing new magnetic signs that the men had made that read, “Nicholas Parisot Construction Company.” It’s a poignant gesture symbolizing all that might have been. There’s something very bittersweet about the crane appearing in the Memorial Day Parade too–many people have memories of Nick participating in the parade as a young boy in his Eagle Scout uniform, riding an antique bicycle.
According to Ruggles, many Parisot family members and Nick’s friends–now 22-24 years old–will be at the parade to pay tribute.
“It’s going to be like something no one else has ever seen. There’s never been a crane towed in the parade before, I don’t think, that I can remember. If one person shows up or 50, Nicholas is going to know that that thing was in the parade, and that’s all I care about,” he says. “That’s all we focused on.”
After the parade, the crane will live, temporarily, in a big field at Ruggles’ home in Redding. It may be something a museum will find interesting. The Wilton Historical Society is said to be interested in it because of its Gilbert and Bennett connection But for right now, everyone involved is just focused on Monday’s parade.
“Even if it went to a museum, I’m leaving the Nicholas Parisot Construction Company on there. That’s how we’re memorializing him,” he adds. “If somebody wants to do that later on in its life, that’s great, but for this moment in time, I just want it to be all about Nicholas. We all did this as a family. We’re going to be on that trailer waving. I’m guessing that not a lot of people are going to understand it. It doesn’t matter, because Nicholas is in that cab. He’s riding in the parade.”