The town of Brookfield canceled its Memorial Day Parade as residents continue to recover from heavy storm damage when tornadoes hit the state earlier this month.
The local VFW still held their annual Memorial Day service at Williams Park, but it wasn’t as well attended as usual.
Given everything this town has been through in the past two weeks, local veterans say it was still important to remember what the day is really all about.
“We usually have a parade, and all the schools are marching, and the fire trucks are all out, and the place is wall to wall people,” explained Brookfield resident Barbara Menendez.
This Memorial Day there was just a quiet ceremony to honor the fallen, attended by about 50 people.
“It feels lonely. Instead of hearing marching bands you’re hearing chainsaws,” Menendez said.
“None of my friends are even having barbeques today. Everybody is busy in clean-up either of their house or someone else’s house,” she added.
Not even the utility crews took a holiday. Bucket trucks still line the sky where poles were snapped by the storm.
“It doesn’t feel like celebrating at all. In fact, it seems like we’ve been through a battle here. So, no celebration this weekend,” Fred Herpel said.
Blue tarp covers a hole in Herpel's home where one of two dozen trees toppled over in the storm.
“It hit about six feet away from me and the wind was blowing sideways,” he said.
The town’s parade was canceled in part because there weren’t enough bodies to run it.
“Our Emergency staff has been working for two weeks. They’re exhausted,” said First Selectman Steve Dunn.
Still, the local VFW stepped in to make sure those who put down their lives for their country weren’t forgotten.
“The meaning becomes a little bit sharper, focused because of the loss, we think about the loss of everything at this point,” said Bob Brown, the Brookfield VFW’s vice-commander.
Firefighter and veteran Lou Menendez has been on the front lines the last two weeks but says what he's thinking about the most this Memorial Day isn't the storm.
“Seeing what happened to people and the loss here, which is small compared to the loss of somebody who died in service to their country,” Lou Menendez said.
Dunn told NBC Connecticut they will make up the parade on either the Fourth of July or Labor Day. In the meantime, they’re tallying up the losses to apply for FEMA funds. So far, the town is up to $4.5 million in storm damage.