Credit: GOOD Morning Wilton

The Wilton Memorial Day Parade Committee invites all Wilton families and guests to the annual Memorial Day Parade and Remembrance Ceremony on Monday, May 29.

This year’s parade theme is “Honor Their Sacrifice.”

8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: The Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast is held at the Wilton Congregational Church (70 Ridgefield Rd.) from 8:30-10:30 a.m.

10 a.m.: The parade begins from 21 River Rd. at 10 a.m. and then proceeds through Wilton Center. There will be veterans, bagpipers, military vehicles, antique cars, emergency vehicles, dignitaries, Scout troops, the Wilton High School band, and local organizations and sports teams marching. They will slow march and salute the flags at the American Legion Post and the Veterans Memorial Green, and then make their way up Ridgefield Rd. to Hillside Cemetery (165 Ridgefield Rd.) for a Memorial Service that is expected to start around 11 a.m.

Bud Taylor, the Grand Marshal of the 2023 Memorial Day Parade, is pictured here when he served in the U.S. Navy. Credit: contributed

11 a.m.: The Memorial Service Program will begin with opening remarks from Parade Committee Chairman Jim Newton followed by the National Anthem played by the Wilton High School Band. One of the Town Selectmen will offer some words of remembrance and then Newton will introduce this year’s Grand Marshal, Wilton resident Bud Taylor. In 1951, Taylor volunteered for a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Navy. During this time the US Military had been fighting in the Korean War for one year. Taylor was trained as a hospital man and served in nine different duty stations. He owned and operated the All-State Insurance Agency in Wilton from 1982-2000. Since then, he has been a hospice volunteer, a Knight of Columbus, a member of the Kiwanis Club, and a parade committee member.

Jimi Kohler, who is the Keynote speaker for the 2023 Memorial Day Ceremony, when he served in the U.S. Army. Credit: contributed

Taylor will be followed by the 2023 Keynote Speaker, Weston resident Jim Kohler, who served 12-month tours in both Korea and in the early days of Vietnam. He volunteered for the Army out of Staples High School in 1963 and went to Fort Dix for Basic and then Advanced Infantry Training. He was in Korea for a year in the DMZ guarding missiles that served as a deterrent to North Korea. He was then promoted to sergeant and served a 12-month tour in Vietnam in the 52nd Aviation Squadron in an assault helicopter company as a door-gunner, strapped into an open door of the helicopter with a machine gun covering insertion and extraction of infantry personnel. He is highly decorated with multiple medals. Upon discharge, Kohler graduated from the University of Bridgeport and worked in the restaurant business, most recently as owner of One Front Street in Bethel.

Wilton High School senior Natalie Schlesinger will sing “America the Beautiful” followed by the laying of the wreath and the reading of the names of Wilton veterans who died during this past year. Schlesinger will then sing “God Bless America” and the Final Benediction will be given by The Rev. Suzanne Wagner of Wilton Congregational Church. Bagpiper Drew Kennedy will play “Amazing Grace” followed by “Taps.”

Important things to know:

  • If inclement weather forces the cancellation of the parade, the remembrance ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Wilton Congregational Church (70 Ridgefield Rd.). An announcement will be made on GOOD Morning Wilton, on the Town of Wilton’s website, and by emergency email alert, (sign up on the town website).
  • River Rd. will be closed to traffic beginning at 9:45 a.m., and Ridgefield Rd. at Drum Hill Rd. and Belden Hill Rd. will be closed as well.
  • Those planning on marching should gather at the back of the Kimco building at 21 River Rd., in the rear parking lot. Everyone needs to register and sign in.
  • Dial-A-Ride vans will be stationed at the Wilton Congregational Church to take seniors and those with disabilities to the Hillside remembrance ceremony.
  • There will be a pickup area at the Wilton Congregational Church for parents picking up their children walking in the parade and for those not continuing on to Hillside.
  • The church will be giving out water.

The parade committee members are volunteers and receive no municipal funds, relying on private donations to pay for parade expenses like banners, bagpipers, porta-johns, wreaths, and flags. Each year, the committee places flags on over 500 military graves in Wilton. Anyone who would like to donate can send checks made out to the “Memorial Day Parade Fund” and mailed to: Memorial Day 2023 Parade Fund, P.O. Box 75, Wilton CT 06897.