New Canaan Now & Then: Armistice Day Parade


Armistice Day Parade

On November 14, 1918, the New Canaan Advertiser published The Greatest Day in the History of the Townwhich described the Town’s response to news of the armistice ending World War I. Around 5,000 people packed into the town center to celebrate the victory. Church, firehouse, and school bells rang out for 24 hours in celebration as parades and parties filled the cold November day with patriotism and joyful hope for the future as world peace was finally restored. The celebrations were begun by Ira Woundy, who was awoken at 3 a.m. by the noise of celebration from Norwalk and Stamford. Once outside, Woundy ran into T.B. Hall and the two made phone calls to Norwalk, Stamford, and New York City to confirm the news. They then went up the hill and began to ring the Congregational Church’s bell

Before dawn broke, the community awoke to sounds of bells and cheers of victory. From that point on it was an impossibility to sleep,as the Advertiser put it. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, the streets of New Canaan became a party. Around 2 pm, an impromptu parade formed with 500 school children at the front. The Townspeople packed themselves onto brand new automobiles or joined the victory procession following the school children, band, and town officials as they marched down Main street. A man most New Canaanites should be familiar with, Walter Stewart Jr., dressed as Uncle Sam and led the parade. It proceeded down Main Street, past center School to East Avenue, and then ended in front of the United Wars Workers Campaign headquarters where postmaster Henry Kelley gave a brief speech. As the sun began to set, multiple bonfires were lit all across the town to give light and warmth to the ongoing festivities. When night finally came, the crowd got a second wind and their enthusiasm and patriotism only grew as the celebration continued. Town officials and veterans such as lieutenant Edward Kelley gave passionate speeches outside Town Hall. The festivities didn’t stop until the early hours of the next day. 

“New Canaan Now & Then” is presented in partnership with the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society.

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