FULTON, NY – Memorial Day weekend kicked off in Fulton with a successful 35th annual Memorial Day Salute.
Hundreds of community members and even some from neighboring communities lined the street to watch the Memorial Day Parade as dozens of entries supporting this year’s theme of “Support Our Veterans” enthusiastically marched across the city.
Parade participants and spectators alike braved the heat to show support for our nation’s fallen military members as community groups and organizations pridefully displayed their patriotic floats and performances.
In it’s 35 years of existence, the Fulton Memorial Day Salute has only grown bigger and better but one thing remains the same in that it is continued to be organized by four Fulton service clubs including Noon Rotary, Sunrise Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Club, as assisted by the Fulton Veterans’ Council and sponsored by the city of Fulton.
This year, parade management was led by Cre8 Studios and all activities were made possible by the event’s other sponsors including Pathfinder Bank, Fulton Savings Bank and Community Bank.
This 35th annual parade was led by Grand Marshal, honored Veteran of the Year, Alan C. Deline and was followed by city representatives including Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. and members of the Fulton Common Council.
Elected officials representing this area including State Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Will Barclay were also on hand to give out flags and candy to young spectators, as well as county legislators Frank Castiglia Jr. and Daniel Farfaglia.
All local levels of law enforcement were present in the parade including Fulton City Police and Fire Departments as well as neighboring departments, the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department and Menter’s Ambulance.
Many local veterans organizations were present including Fulton Veteran Council’s President, Garry Visconti riding through the parade on his motorcycle.
After the hour and a half worth of parade entries had crossed through the city, briefly stopping to perform in front of the judge’s table, the judges had their hands full when it came time to decide who would win in each of the few categories including Grand Marshal trophy, children’s groups, theme trophy, best music trophy and veteran’s trophies.
Taking home the Grand Marshal trophy with only one winning spot allotted, Oswego County Opportunities was selected as this year’s overall grand prize winners.
With three winning opportunities, Hannibal Cheer Mini’s took home the first place spot for the children’s groups category. Following in second place was N&N Dance Studio, and in third place was Girl Scouts for leading the pledge of allegiance as well as the scouts honor.
Taking the theme trophy, Oswego Industries was the award winning selection with their giant display of patriotic balloons.
Winning the best music trophy was Naples High School Marching Band, beating out last year’s Grand Marshal winners, Downbeat Percussion.
The three winners for Veteran’s trophies include Masonic War Vets in first place, Civil War costumes in second place and Camden Fife and Drum taking home third place.
The Memorial Day Salute did not end with the parade, however. Spectators followed to the War Memorial parking lot for rides and the Fulton Community Ice Rink for food and live entertainment.
Off Broadway Dance Center, Fulton Dixieland Band, and Fulton Community Band performed throughout the day until the main event that closed out the night’s entertainment, Ruby Shooz took the stage.
To cap off a wonderful, successful celebration of this year’s Memorial Day Salute, fireworks were set off over Lake Neatahwanta.
The commemoration continued on Memorial Day morning (Monday, May 30) when a group of community members and veterans followed through a police escort to accompany the Honor Guard as they held ceremonies at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Mt. Adnah Cemetery and the Fulton War Memorial Veterans’ Area.
The escort ended at Veteran’s Park across from Fulton City Hall where Fulton City Police blocked off the road to allow spectators to line the street to observe the ceremony held in remembrance of the many military members that took the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation.
Headed by Fulton Veteran Council President, Garry Visconti, the ceremony beautifully commemorated all those lost their lives defending our country’s freedom.
Father Fuchs, a veteran himself, led the audience through the opening prayer. The crowd continued to join in with Veteran of the Year, Alan Deline in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Bonnie Fowler singing the National Anthem.
Fulton City Mayor, Ronald Woodward Sr. and members of the Fulton Common Council including first ward councilman, Tom Kenyon; third ward councilman, Donald Patrick; fifth ward councilman Norman Foster; and sixth ward councilman and veteran, Larry Macner as well as prior city councilmen Bob Weston and Alan Emrich were present at the event as well.
“On behalf of myself, the Common Council and the grateful residents of the city of Fulton, I want to thank you all for your services and sacrifice. God Bless you all and God Bless America,” said Mayor Woodward, honored to have been able to speak before the local veterans and thankful for the sacrifices of all military members.
Mayor Woodward and veteran, Alan Deline hung the wreath in front of Veteran’s Park while a few youth in the audience were able to present flowers and a flag. Meanwhile, a wreath was thrown in the Oswego River by a Navy and a Marine veteran to honor those lost at sea and a POW wreath was hung to honor those who have not yet been found.
Visconti noted that a local missing in action military person from the Korean War, Joseph Trapasso has recently been found and his family and the city of Fulton await his rightful return home.
Donna Kestner of the Oswego County Veteran’s Office and a veteran herself spoke to the crowd to open their eyes of the differences in vision from a military family to a civilian.
She explained that while civilians think of Memorial Day and envision cemeteries and flags, the family members of a fallen military member envision what the future could have been for their lost loved one and how it is so drastically different now.
“We can’t take their grief away, but we can show them that we remember. Let us all take a pledge to make our symbols of gratitude second nature,” she said. “While it may be a small gesture, it carries a powerful message: that we are grateful and that we remember.”
Struggling through his emotions, Visconti addressed the crowd to speak about his own fallen friends.
Remembering how 40 years ago he set off for the Navy with his three best friends just two days after high school graduation, he didn’t imagine he would stand here today with only two survivors of the group of four.
And although they weren’t lost due to their service, Visconti made known that today is a day to remember all who had fallen that once took the call to defend the country they love, no matter the cause.
“Remember them, too. Remember our fallen because they are the backbone, along with the active, of this great country,” he said.
While you are enjoying the extended weekend, a nice barbecue and the warm sunshine, it is asked of you to take the time to honor this day and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to make and keep this nation free.