The new Darien Memorial Day Parade Committee is taking the reins from Phil Kraft, who planned the traditional town event for the last 12 years.

With the Monuments & Ceremonies Commission, Kraft, its chairman, will oversee the Memorial Day ceremony at the state Veterans Cemetery at the conclusion of the parade, which takes place at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27.

In recognition of his commitment and dedicated years of service to veteran causes, Kraft, who also runs the National Veterans Service Fund, has been named as the grand marshal of the 2013 parade. As grand marshal, Kraft encourages Darien residents to come out in full force in support of the parade and to attend the formal ceremony, which recognizes those who have died for the country.

The new committee is made up of more than 10 Darien residents,

"The newly organized Memorial Day Parade Committee is a wonderful addition to the outstanding work of the Monuments & Ceremonies Commission," said First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. "This group of energized volunteers will partner with the commission to help strengthen and preserve what has become over the years a treasured community celebration of those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom."

Sara Franzese, co-chairman of the parade committee, added, "We have an enthusiastic, engaged group of volunteers who are excited to be a part of this event. While we have big shoes to fill, we hope to continue to build Darien's strong Memorial Day traditions and bring fresh ideas to the town's celebration."

To encourage Darien's youth to show their patriotism and reflect on the significance of Memorial Day, the committee is hosting an inaugural Memorial Day Children's Drawing Contest. Children, under the age of 18, are invited to submit a drawing on 8-by-10-inch white paper by April 19. The winner will be recognized in the media and have an opportunity to march in the parade. In addition, the winner's design will be featured in the official Memorial Day parade posters, which will be showcased around town in advance of the holiday. Drawings should be mailed to the Memorial Day Parade Committee at 2 Renshaw Road, Darien CT 06820.

If anyone is interested in marching in the parade or becoming a member of the committee, contact Franzese at

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