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Labor Day Parade Grand Marshal Weiss ‘Deeply Rooted In Our Community’



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The Newtown Labor Day Parade Committee has consciously avoided having a faith leader in the parade’s coveted Grand Marshal position. The volunteer group has similarly worked to make sure no single school is featured over the others.

With good reason, however, the committee this year has invited Monsignor Robert Weiss to serve as Grand Marshal on Monday, September 4, when The 2023 Newtown Labor Day Parade steps off at 10 am.

Parade Participant Chair & Lineup Coordinator Melissa Kopcik says the reach of Weiss, the pastor of St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, goes well beyond the Church Hill Road parish and parochial school he has led for nearly a quarter of a century.

“He does so much for this town, beyond leading the church,” she told The Newtown Bee last week. “Everyone knows him, and he’s always helped anyone, regardless of religion or belief. Monsignor is there for everybody and anything, no matter what.”

Kopcik elaborated further this week.

“Monsignor Weiss is a pillar of strength in our community,” she said June 7. “In his 24 years of service to Newtown, Monsignor has managed to build meaningful connections, advancing his mission with purpose all while growing the community as a whole together with each and every resident that has crossed his path.

“That is why Monsignor is the perfect choice for this year’s theme, ‘Deeply Rooted In Our Community.”

An Annual Gift

Weiss has been in the Labor Day Parade every year since his assignment to Newtown, he said June 6. A spectacular event that pulls in schools, clubs, organizations and businesses, the parade maintains its focus on all things local while hosting an expanding collection of regional participants.

Weiss loves it.

“It’s terrific for the town, to see the people come together,” he continued. “I love the parade. It’s really terrific for the town.”

He does miss some of the past iterations of the Labor Day parade, he admitted.

“When I first came here all the kids were marching — all the Boy Scout troops, and the Girl Scouts, and all of the schools — and I think we’ve lost some of that.

“I think Pop Warner has kind of come back to it, but it used to feel like a good local parade,” he said. “I kind of miss that dimension, and I know people’s availabilities have changed over the years, but it’s still very good for the community.

“It’s a powerful expression of who we are,” he said.

The fact that the parade went on in 2013 — nine months after 12/14 — “just shows the resiliency of this town,” Weiss said. “I think that was a great testimony. The parade is a gift, in many, many ways.”

Like a big kid, the 77-year-old is a fan of participating in the parade.

“The great memory for me has always been the enthusiasm, as you go down, as you ride the float down the road, and everybody yells out to you,” the monsignor said Tuesday morning.

“The town is really generous with that. We’re the Catholic church, yes, but everybody always cheers for you,” he said. Newtown’s Congregational, Episcopal and Lutheran churches also regularly participate, and are equally celebrated as they travel the parade route.

“It doesn’t really matter what you represent, or what denomination you are,” he continued. “I think the people just recognize you as part of their community.”

Gift-Wrapped, Award-Winning Entry

On September 4, 2005, Weiss and 300 members of his parish celebrated the town’s tercentennial by dressing up as gifts in the year the parade’s theme was “Happy Birthday, Newtown!”

The entry received huge cheers and very appreciative laughs along every foot of the parade route.

St Rose Church won three parade awards that year: Best Float, Rooster Award for The Most Crowd Pleasing, and Best Nonmusical Entry. St Rose of Lima School was also honored, going home with Best School Entry that year.

That appearance is easily among his favorites.

“I think that was probably the highlight,” he said, grinning at the memory. “We pulled that one off really well.

“Our parish and school really rallies around the parade,” Weiss said. “As far as I know, we’ve been involved in it from the beginning. We’ve always had a great committee that’s put something together.”

Conversely, Weiss seems to enjoy watching the parade as much as participating in it. He talked this week about watching others march the route, “people who have contributed so much to this town.”

“There are a lot of memories too of the people who have contributed so much to Newtown, who have always been such an important part of this parade,” he said.

Newtown Labor Day Parade Grand Marshals have included fine artists, celebrated authors, fire chiefs, a surgeon, business owners, a newspaper publisher, and the town historian. Returning briefly to the morning’s subject, he ruminated on the fact that he too is now among those dignitaries.

“When you think about all the people who have been honored to be grand marshal, what each one of those persons has contributed to the well-being of the community, is just amazing,” he said. “I am so honored to be among them.”

‘A Great Sendoff’

Weiss has been taking steps toward the resignation of his administrative responsibilities, required by canon law once a priest reaches their 75th birthday. In 2021 Bishop Caggiano granted a rare extension, however, allowing Weiss to continue his pastoral leadership and duties for two more years beyond the milestone.

The extension allowed Weiss and his parish to celebrate, last month, the 50th anniversary of his ordination while still actively serving in Newtown. He will resign in January.

The 2023 Labor Day Parade, the monsignor said this week, “will be a great send-off.”

Fittingly, his final appearance will be at the head of the line of march.

Weiss will be counting on his parish’s parade committee to guide him once more toward Newtown’s Labor Day Parade. His seat on the judges’ stand on Queen Street will then afford him one of the best seats in town.


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Monsignor Robert Weiss will serve as Grand Marshal for the 61st Newtown Labor Day Parade on September 4. —photo courtesy St Rose of Lima Church
Monsignor Weiss and his parishioners brought down the house — and took home multiple awards — when they dressed as 300 gifts in the 2005 parade, bringing to life that year’s parade theme of “Happy Birthday Newtown!” —Bee file photo
—Bee file photo
—Bee file photo
Monsignor Weiss has participated in every Newtown Labor Day Parade since his arrival in town in 1999. He credits “a great committee that’s put something together” to represent the St Rose parish, including last year's entry under the theme “Hidden Gems of Newtown.” —Bee file photo
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1 comment
  1. newtownbee2023 says:

    When you give your life selflessly to God, you deserve to be a Grand Marshall. It’s about time we honored those among us who do the Lord’s work everyday and not be “politically correct” and only choose those among us who are unaffiliated with a church.

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