The is once again sponsoring the Annual Independence Day Parade in Stonington Borough on July 4th, 2011. This event brings hundreds of participants to Wadawanuck Square each year to participate and watch the old-fashioned procession of local dignitaries, handcrafted floats, and families in celebratory garb. For years, the residents of Stonington have observed Independence Day in this way—by marching through Stonington Borough and assembling to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
All are invited to gather at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, July 4, at the southwest corner of in Stonington Borough. Everyone will step off at 10 a.m., march to in the lower Borough and return to the park to hear the Declaration and to invoke, as always, a pox on King George. After the reading, the Stonington Village Improvement Society will provide free ice cream at Mathews Park. The ice cream is being donated by Dogwatch Café. Mathews Park, which was originally the property of the local railroad, dates to 1875. Both the park and street were named for Andrew S. Mathews, a beloved community member and the Superintendent of the Stonington & Providence railroad line. The park’s gardens have recently undergone a restoration sponsored by the SVIA and the Stonington Garden Club. The Mathews Park property was “given” to the Stonington Village Improvement Association (SVIA) for $1.00 by the New York-New Haven-Hartford Railroad Company.
With its kazoo band, decorated bicycles, kids in wagons and sometimes farm animals, this celebration was recently called one of the “sweetest scenes around” in New England life.
The Stonington Historical Society, which organizes the event, has invited “First Responders”, to acknowledge the coming tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 9, 2001. The Grand Marshal will be David Erskine, who joined the Stonington Police Department in 1965, served as chief from 1998 to 2008, when he retired after earning many awards. He has been active in a variety of community organizations, including the Tricentennial Scholarship Committee, the community center and the historical society.
The readers of the Declaration will be:
Jeffrey Hoadley, a member of the Stonington Borough fire department for 37 years and its chief for the past 20 years. His leadership and the efforts and skill of his firefighters helped the Borough survive the terrible fire of July 3, 2003, at the former Monsanto factory.
Darren Stewart, the current chief of police, a Stonington native and a member of the force for 27 years. He has taught at the University of Connecticut and Salve Regina University in Newport.
Theresa Hersh, a first responder many times over. An officer in the Stonington police department, she has also been a commander in the Stonington Ambulance Corps and a member of the Neptune Engine Company in the Stonington Borough fire department, which recently elected her its captain.
Henry R. (Rob) Palmer III, a teacher in Stonington elementary and middle schools for more than three decades, has been an active member of the Pawcatuck fire department for 29 years, as well as serving as an emergency dispatcher for the Westerly Ambulance Corps.
The National Sojourners’ New London chapter, in Revolutionary War uniforms, will again carry the historical society’s full-sized reproduction of the 11-by-18-foot Stonington Battle Flag of 1814. Such local organizations as the VFW, the American Legion, the Stonington Village Improvement Association, and the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club will also participate.