After a gray and rainy weekend, the sun came out in time to celebrate Memorial Day yesterday at the city’s annual Memorial Day Parade.
Warwick Veterans Council President Anthony Rodrigues, who organized this year’s parade, estimates 1,000 people turned out to line the parade route, donning their red, white and blue.
“This was the biggest crowd in years,” said Rodrigues, following the speaking portion of the morning’s celebration.
More than 300 people marched in the parade, including police officers, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, dancers, karate students, local police and fire departments, high school marching bands and, of course, veterans from all branches of the armed forces.
“It was wonderful to see how many children participated in the parade and to see so many of their families lining the parade route to cheer them on,” said Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson (Ward 3). A Navy veteran, Vella-Wilkinson said she was happy to see the parade committee made up of city officials, veterans and regular citizens, adding that it was a great representation of the city of Warwick. “That is something I would like to see continue,”
This year the parade was organized without parade chairman Leonard Malo. The former president of the Warwick Veterans Council passed away on Dec. 9, 2012. Brenda Gomez, a member of the Disabled War Veterans Council, admits that putting together this year’s festivities without Malo was difficult, but they did it.
“I thought it was an exceptional parade,” said Vella-Wilkinson.
Mayor Scott Avedisian agreed, saying the parade was well organized and had great participation.
“I was very happy to have Senator Jack Reed and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo come out and lead the parade with me,” said Avedisian.
The mayor also felt the speaking program, held at the end of the parade route in front of Veterans Memorial Park and Warwick Veterans Memorial High School, was moving and showed how the city truly respects its veterans.
In his remarks, Avedisian said he hoped this parade would serve as “a small thank you for the large debt we owe” to both veterans and those currently serving.
“This is a thank you to all who have sacrificed for everything we have now and will have in the future,” said Avedisian.
City Council President Donna Travis echoed the mayor’s sentiments of thanking not only the veterans who have returned home or lost their lives but also those that are still serving today.
“I think it’s important to let them know they are appreciated,” said Travis.
Rodrigues was happy with the outcome of yesterday’s events.
“It exceeded my expectations,” said Rodrigues. “We’ve got to thank the mayor and anyone who participated. And thank God for good weather. It was a beautiful morning.”
Avedisian also appreciated the warm weather, after experiencing cold weather at events over the weekend.
“Overall, it was a great Memorial Day,” said Avedisian.