This past weekend, we celebrated Memorial Day in the United States. It’s my favorite weekend of the year and there’s no other place I’d rather be than in Connecticut with my family and childhood friends. I grew up in South Norwalk, Connecticut (42 miles outside of New York City) and people who come from this neck of the woods understand that Memorial Day weekend is more than just honoring our soldiers, although that’s the most important part. It’s also the (unofficial) first day of summer as the weather is finally warm, the landscape is full of color, the beaches are open, the boats are in the water and most importantly, everyone is in a great mood, walking around wearing summer clothes and big smiles.
Many of my friends and family live in a section of Norwalk called Rowayton. Anyone with ties to Rowayton knows that there’s no better time of year to come back than Memorial Day. Besides all the reasons listed above, this is the weekend that everyone who grew up here has deemed an annual sort of homecoming. Natives travel from all over to make it back for this one special weekend, which kicks off Friday night with a casual martini party on Bell Island. This was the 38th anniversary of the party and it keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The weekend is filled with countless barbecues and soirées. The granddaddy of all the parties — the Memorial Day Parade — begins at high noon on Sunday. The parade is small. It lasts maybe 30 minutes — but it’s special. The best part is that practically everyone knows everyone who marches. Marchers range from the Rowayton Fire Department to the nationally renowned Brien McMahon High School band, which has performed at huge venues like the Rose Bowl and Yankee Stadium. After the parade, an emotional ceremony takes place at the canon. Everyone takes their hats off, puts their hands on their chests, and pays tribute to our fallen soldiers, as well as all those guarding our freedom right now. If the playing of Taps doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will. After God Bless America, everyone walks over to the firehouse for free hot dogs and soda.