MILLSTONE – To honor individuals who died in military service, municipal officials, residents and veterans of the United States armed forces gathered together in what officials are saying was the largest Memorial Day commemoration in Millstone Township.
The May 27 event was a cooperative effort among the township, the Veterans Memorial Council, the Millstone Township K-8 School District, the recreation department and the parade committee.
The parade went from Millstone Park on Red Valley Road to the veterans memorial near the municipal building on Stagecoach Road. The New Jersey State Police provided horse-mounted units. Also participating were motorcyclists, classic car owners, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Allentown High School marching band and bagpipers.
“This year’s parade had more participants and more spectators than ever before,” said John Sico, co-chair of the parade committee. “Patriotism was in the air with music supplied by Allentown High School’s marching band, St. Brendan’s Navigator Bagpipe Band and the Millstone’s float with DJDP playing patriotic songs.
“Everyone saw the patriotism of all the participants as the motorcyles roared along the parade route,” he continued. “The classic cars brought back memories to those of us who remember those days. The parents and young boys and girls who played baseball and soccer, or were Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, as well as other organizations, marched with pride. In addition, thanks to co-chair Al Ferro, the parade had mounted New Jersey state troopers and kids young and old loved them.”
A memorial service was held at the conclusion of the parade, with Black Bear Lake Day Camp donating and delivering two additional sets of viewing stands to supplement the township’s viewing stand, according to Sico. Vietnam War veteran Lt. Col. Raymond Dothard, who chairs the Memorial Council, introduced the keynote speaker, Col. Lola Washington.
“You could have heard a pin drop as she (Washington) delivered her message,” Sico said. “The program changed slightly this year as Lt. Col. Dothard, who always does an outstanding job, asked St. Brendan’s Navigator Bagpipe Band to play ‘Amazing Grace’ as he called on each community organization to place a wreath at the veterans memorial. That was a beautiful moment to reflect as to why we are here.”
For the second year, the Millstone Township Middle School sponsored an essay contest on “What Memorial Day Means to Me.” Ethan Bailey earned first place, Rachel Glantzberg earned second place and Anna DePinho earned third place. As the winner, Ethan read his essay during the memorial service.
“The entire memorial service was beautiful and even though Millstone is a small
town, our patriotism is second to none,” Sico said.
Following the memorial service, a concert was held at Black Bear Lake with food supplied by Black Bear Lake Day Camp and Vesuvio’s. The concert was led by Annie Bryson of Cornerstone Music Studios.
To start the concert, Alyssa Sico, who is John Sico’s granddaughter, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and St. Brendan’s Navigator Bagpipe Band played “Amazing Grace.”
The performance was in honor of military veteran and Millstone resident Danny Sico, Alyssa Sico’s father and John Sico’s son, who died in 2018 at the age of 44.
After the opening performance, Samantha Shearer and Amanda Shearer sang three songs, Annie Bryson sang “God Bless America” and Vietnam War veteran Erick Kasner sang a song he wrote and recorded called “No Regrets.”
The concert ended with the youngsters in attendance leading the audience in a performance of “God Bless the U.S.A.”
“The concert was fantastic,” Sico said. “When Alyssa Sico sang the national anthem to start the concert and the St. Brendan’s Navigator Bagpipe Band played ‘Amazing Grace’ in honor of Pvt. Danny Sico Sr., people had tears in their eyes. Samantha and Amanda Shearer sounded like angels. Annie Bryson was amazing. Erick Kasner’s song was wonderful and the message was right on.”
“Memorial Day is reserved to honor the brave men and women, our neighbors and friends, who sacrificed everything to protect the freedoms we enjoy every day,” said Ian Feibelman, director and owner of Black Bear Lake Day Camp.
“We invite our residents and visitors to attend the parade and ceremony and show their individual support for heroes who remain with us today, and heroes who gave their lives for our country. The three-day weekend is so much more than simply the start of summer, grilling and backyard barbecues, and opening up neighborhood pools.
“Black Bear Lake Day Camp has been a constant in this community for 25 years and we are honored and proud to support this great tradition. We look forward to doing so for many more years to come,” he said.
Sico thanked Feibelman, Event Director for Black Bear Lake Picnics Pauline Schmidt, and Frank Costagliola of Vesuvio’s Pizzeria for their donations of food.
“It is the committee’s goal that each year the Memorial Day parade grows in participation and attendance so we will always honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and we will never forget,” Sico said. “Also, it is our hope the patriotic concert grows and grows and grows.”