WATERVILLE — Gray skies, with cooler temperatures hovering around 50 degrees and what looked like the chance of rain did not stop hundreds from coming out for the annual Memorial Day parade and ceremonies on Monday.

The parade, which began a few minutes past 10 a.m. on Water Street, processed up Main Street, which was blocked off to traffic so the parade could make its way up the opposite direction on the one-way street. Families crowded the street and sidewalks, some even sitting in the back of their truck beds for a better look. Children sat on their parents’ shoulders. Leashed dogs barked and sniffed at each other and spectators with coffee cups waited. Based on the wardrobes of those in attendance, it was hard to gauge what the actual temperature was that day. Some people were in shorts and T-shirts, while others standing not far away were in jeans and fleece sweaters.

As police cruisers made their way Main Street, the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in full regalia marched through, followed by bands from the Waterville Junior High School and Waterville High School. A local boy scout chapter, and other children handed out hand-held American flags.

Eventually, the parade made its way up to Veterans Park, where the VFW hosted a ceremony which included readings, a prayer and the laying of a wreath at the base of a monument. Mayor Nick Isgro, who marched in the parade with his family, addressed the crowd, where he praised all the veterans who had served and those who had given their lives for the United States.

“This is an important and solemn occasion,” he said before the dozens gathered in the park.

Isgro said at every time in the country’s need, Waterville has “sent her boys into battle.” Even Castonguay Square, he said, located next to City Hall, was named after one of the city’s historical figures who died in war. It is named after Sgt. Arthur Castonguay, who died fighting in France during World War I in 1918.

Isgro spoke of the “dark ideologies” that lead to conflict around the world, and when those forces came around, the world “found heroes in Waterville.”

“The price of freedom isn’t free,” he said, adding that the men and women who died in military service “paid the ransom of our freedom with their blood.”

Waterville’s was one of several parades or celebrations in the region honoring those who served in the military. From Augusta to Wilton, a number of towns hosted parades, wreath laying ceremonies, band performances and signing and other events.

Waterville’s parade wrapped up by about 10:15 a.m., and the remaining ceremonies were over just before 11 a.m. There was some confusion as the where the parade route was, as initially it was indicated the events would conclude in Castonguay Square off of Front Street, which Veterans Park is on Elm Street. However, patrons simply followed the line of firetrucks, police cruisers and marchers toward the correct park.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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