Newtown Well Represented In Memorial Day Shoreline ‘Taps’ Salute
Four generations of Newtown residents represented the community in some form during an ambitious and hastily arranged Memorial Day tribute that featured dozens of musicians performing “Taps” in succession, beginning at 10 am, May 25, along the Housatonic River from Long Island Sound to the Massachusetts border.
Newtown’s opportunity to shine and be heard happened between 10:10 and 10:17 am, when volunteer musicians toting saxophones, trumpets, bugles, and even an antique valve trombone each took their turns as the haunting tribute wafted across the waters along the western shorelines of Lakes Zoar and Lillinonah.
See video of the event below:
With the coronavirus impacting all, the American Legion recognized that a traditional Memorial Day celebration would not be advisable. So instead it was decided to assemble musicians and veterans who would team up at various locations creating a continuous echo of the 24-note tune along the Housatonic River, about one mile apart.
Newtown’s key role in the activity was organized by Donna A. Monteleone, Senior Vice Commander of the American Legion Post 202 serving Newtown and Brookfield. She was assisted by First Selectman Dan Rosenthal who helped secure Newtown Police assistance at the Glen Road “Silver Bridge” where the department’s drone aircraft captured that segment of the spectacle from above, as Lt David Kullgren manned the controls.
Julie van der Kroef provided additional drone imaging.
“I was so proud to be part of this, and I can’t thank Dan enough for his assistance,” Monteleone told The Newtown Bee, whose videographer/photographer was stationed with the First Selectman and the father/son team of musicians at the end of Riverside Drive.
“This event came up very quickly and we had little time to get it organized,” Monteleone said. “So when I called on the first selectman for assistance, he said ‘Let’s make this happen,’ and offered any assistance I might need.”
Mother Nature was also cooperative as a misty rain that was falling until shortly before the tribute commenced seemed to break for a short time just after 10 am.
While the locations of the musicians, all who were accompanied by active or past service members, were kept secret to discourage large gatherings, several drew neighbors and family members of participants, all showing appropriate reverence as each station attended to its ritual duty.
As she assembled participants, Monteleone called on members of the Newtown High School Marching Band, and graduates who went on to play for the UConn Marching Band, to lend their talents, albeit for just around one minute each.
William Cafarelli of Photo & Video Art Works also offered his services assembling the various image contributions from each location into a finished video that will be made available on the municipal website, Monteleone said. Three western Connecticut American Legion Posts helped carry the project to fruition.
On May 11, the call for volunteers went out from Monteleone, representing Fairfield County, Mike Kellett of Post 16 representing New Haven County, and Karl Crump of Post 44 in Litchfield County, and the responses began coming in.
Newtown’s contingents were as follows:
10:10 am Eichler’s Cove — Nicholas Randle and Patrick Pierce on alto saxophones, joined by Nick Cabral - US Army, and Donna A Monteleone - US Army.
10:11 am Paugassett Forest, Great Quarter Road — Dr Mark Flegg trumpet joined by 2nd Company Governor’s Horse Guard Commander Major Jim Marrinan, and Past Commander Major Gordon Johnson.
10:12 am at the end of Mohawk Trail — Bryan Ingwersen on trumpet, joined by John C Taylor - US Navy, and Philip Cruz - US Army.
10:13 am at the end of Sweetbriar Lane — Tim McCarthy on trumpet joined by Luke Moore - US Marine Corps, and Ivan Podpolulcha - US Navy.
10:14 am Riverside Drive near Center Street — Paul Fadus on trumpet, joined by his father and US WWII Navy Veteran Charles Fadus on valve trombone, along with Korean War vets E. Joan Weldon - US Navy, and Lee Canfield - US Navy.
10:15 am at the Glen Road Silver Bridge — Sister Doretta D’Albero, Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Higganum, on trumpet joined by veteran and police officer Matthew J Seibert – US Army.
10:16 am on Anthes Avenue — Julia Calabrese on trumpet joined by Christine Calabrese - US Air Force, Bill Brimmer - US Army, and State Rep Mitch Bolinsky of the 106th District.
10:17 am at the Shady Rest Community Beach — Boy Scout Maxwell Barbagallo on trumpet joined by George Boncek - US Navy and Matthew Rahtelli - US Army, Scout Master Ed Breitling and Assistant Scout Master Tony Barbagallo.
On a side note, commander Kellett of Post 16 plans to pursue possible Guinness Book of Records entries for the longest run of “Taps” played for Memorial Day on a river; and a title paying tribute to 94-year-old Charles Fadus who served on the USS Dover, the oldest active duty ship during WWII — performing “Taps” beside his son, Paul.