By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Freddy Jackson, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9422, will lead the city’s Memorial Day parade as grand marshal when it steps off at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Jackson, an Army veteran who served in Colorado and Korea in 1963-66 during the Vietnam War era, was originally selected to serve at the helm of the 2016 and 2017 parades, but they were canceled by rain.
This year’s parade has no rain date.
Jackson, 73, will guide the 45-unit procession of veterans, dignitaries and bands along the 1.5-mile parade course, which follows Campbell Avenue from Captain Thomas Boulevard to Center Street.
He was tapped by the West Haven Veterans Council, which helps the city organize the annual parade, for his years of service to the Army, his fellow vets and his community, the latter of which is perhaps the cornerstone of the qualifications for grand marshal, council President Dave Ricci said.
Jackson is a longtime member of Hughson-Miller Post 71 of the American Legion and served as commander in the early ’90s.
This year’s edition of southern Connecticut’s oldest and largest parade of its kind will feature three marching divisions and a military division, as well as special accommodations for disabled veterans.
The procession will include an eight-seat golf cart carrying former grand marshals that is bedecked with a star gracing the names of those deceased. Other veterans will ride on a float.
The parade will include a flyover by the Connecticut Air National Guard. Jackson will steer the procession from a convertible flanked by the West Haven Police Color Guard.
The 90-minute event, in memory of the deceased members of the U.S. armed forces of all wars, will showcase the city’s array of veterans groups and the 103rd Air Control Squadron.
The procession will consist of five marching bands: Bailey Middle School, Carrigan Intermediate School, the Stylettes Drill Team and Drum Corps, Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy and West Haven High School.
It will also spotlight the traditional contingent of youth organizations and sports leagues, dance troupes and Scout troops, fraternal organizations and service clubs, local and state leaders, police officers and firefighters.