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City of Old Town to honor veterans at sixth annual Memorial Day events

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City of Old Town to honor veterans at sixth annual Memorial Day events (Photo courtesy of Marie Caliandro)

OLD TOWN - Veterans of all eras will be honored during Old Town’s sixth annual “We Honor Veterans” celebration, including a 5K run/walk and parade, to be directly followed by a ceremony and concert at Riverfront Park, in downtown Old Town on May 27.

According to event coordinator Tim Caliandro, U.S. Army M SGT (retired), this event is for veterans and all who want to honor them. Caliandro says the event, which began in 2014, was a long time coming.

“It had been about 75 years since Old Town had a Memorial Day parade or celebration,” Caliandro said. “I know a World War II veteran, who is now in his 90s, who can recall being a little boy holding onto his father’s pantleg during the last Memorial Day parade in Old Town. He was with us a few years ago when we brought it back.”

That year also saw the first “We Honor Veterans” celebration, an event which continues to draw widespread support.

“Starting with the city of Old Town, the support has been incredible,” said Caliandro. “When I went in to talk to them about it, City Manager Bill Mayo stopped me and said ‘We get it. You have our total support.’”

That means access to Old Town’s emergency personnel, including police, fire and ambulance, as well as having city officials roll up their sleeves to help out in a variety of ways.

“It’s not just about financial support, it’s support, period,” Caliandro added. “A lot of businesses have also stepped up to help out.”

Businesses providing financial and material support for the event include Bell’s Orono IGA, Dennis Paper, Cyr Transportation, Sargent Corporation and Old Town Canoe, among many others.

The events will kick off with the 5K race/walk beginning and ending at the Old Town-Orono YMCA on 472 Stillwater Ave. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the race starting at 9 a.m. All proceeds will benefit the Y’s scholarships for veterans; pre-registration is $8, while day-of registration is $10.

At 11 a.m., the Memorial Day parade will begin at Old Town High School and work its way down Main St. Caliandro says the upcoming parade is likely to be the biggest yet.

At noon following the parade, attendees are encouraged to gather at Riverfront Park for the “We Honor Veterans” celebration, which will include a barbecue, guest speakers and live music from the band Little Rodeo.

“They’re an excellent band and always supportive of what we’re doing,” Caliandro said.

The menu for the celebration will include pork BBQ, beans and hot dogs, according to Caliandro.

“Veterans eat for free,” he said. “Individual meals are only $5.00 each or $15.00 for a family.”

“Big Dawg Barbecue from the Jay and Rumford area will be here to cook for us,” according to Caliandro. “The food is incredible. The Old Town Rotary Club is also giving us a lot of assistance.”

Dessert will be supplied by LaBree’s Bakery.

Old Town Canoe has donated a paddle kayak and a 16-foot Discovery canoe for raffles designed to raise money to help offset expenses for the celebration. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the Old Town VFW, Old Town Trading Post and Old Town City Hall.

“This event has grown beyond my imagination,” Caliandro said. “I expected that it would build slowly. I didn’t think I would see it grow so fast. It’s really something great to be part of and we invite everyone to join us.”

Bangor Savings Bank in Old Town has established a special account dedicated to Old Town’s Memorial Day events. People interested in offering support can make checks payable to Old Town Memorial Day Parade Fund. All donations are tax deductible.

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