If you want an authentic small town experience for this weekend, come to Shelter Island’s Memorial Day parade. The official opening of the summer season, the parade starts in the center of town at the firehouse, works its way down Route 114 past the library, American Legion Mitchell Post 281, the school and down side streets where Islanders come out of their houses to watch the parade pass by.
The parade route is lined with flags as fire trucks and ambulances roll past, veterans ride in vintage cars and Daughters of the American Revolution, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts of all ages march in time to the beat of the Shelter Island school marching band. Spectators don their red, white and blue and wave flags, neighbors chat with neighbors, locals greet summer residents, babies in strollers reach out, dogs smile.
After, there’s a short, solemn memorial service to honor the veterans, with a three-volley salute by the Legion Honor Guard (Cover your ears!) a young Islander sings the National Anthem and a high school trumpeter sends the strains of “Taps” into the quiet air.
Then the crowd walks over to the American Legion grounds where the members of the Legion and Lions Club host a free barbecue with hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream and games for the kids, including old-fashioned sack races.
Photo by Eleanor P. Labrozzi