UPDATE: Anonymous donor revives Bath Memorial Day parade

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BATH — A day after news broke that Bath’s Memorial Day parade would be canceled because of an illegal gambling scandal involving Smith-Tobey American Legion Post No. 21, the parade’s longtime sponsor, an anonymous local man has offered to fund the parade.

That offer came in time to allow local organizers to gain the city’s approval and scramble together veterans, a marching band, fire trucks and other participants for a parade scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the post.

After pleading guilty to Class B felony aggravated unlawful gambling, Smith-Tobey representatives informed city officials earlier this month that they could no longer afford to sponsor the parade. A representative of the district attorney’s office said the post’s gambling operation took in “hundreds of thousands of dollars” over many years.

Smith-Tobey was fined $15,000 and surrendered its license to operate licensed games of chance for 30 months, according Maine State Police Sgt. Michael Johnston, who led the investigation that resulted from an anonymous tip.

By Monday, city officials had all but abandoned plans for a Memorial Day parade in Bath, and parade organizers in other nearby communities began extending invitations to Bath veterans to march in their parades.

But on Tuesday morning, Bath Realtor Shane McKenna, who also owns Universe Gym and Fitness Center, was contacted by a local man who offered an undisclosed amount of money to ensure the parade happens, McKenna said Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Dan Eosco, a scoutmaster, was planning to have his Cub Scouts meet at the American Legion post on Memorial Day and march through local cemeteries.

Once McKenna and Eosco learned of the other’s efforts, they worked together – with Smith-Tobey Cmdr. Chris Gillespie and City Manager Bill Giroux – to assemble plans for a reconstituted parade.

McKenna said he and Eosco would spend Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday calling organizations originally scheduled to participate in the parade to make sure they would still march.

Gillespie said the anonymous donor plans to give the money to Smith-Tobey, which will then sponsor the parade. Gillespie said the donor “is just an average guy who wants to help Post 21 make sure the parade happens.”

Earlier on Tuesday, members of the Brunswick-Topsham Memorial Day Committee said they had contacted participants of the Bath parade, including veterans groups, schools and scouting troops, to invite them to their parade.

The Waldoboro American Legion wrote on the Bangor Daily News Facebook page that Bath-area veterans were welcome at that parade as well.

But McKenna said participants in the Bath parade will gather at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the American Legion post on Congress Avenue and proceed, as in previous years, down Lincoln, Center and Front streets.

Organizations that wish to participate should email Eosco at daniel@mainehost.com or McKenna at shane.mckenna25@gmail.com.

Sidebar Elements

Annual parades on tap in Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell

BRUNSWICK — Towns that face off across the Androscoggin River are teaming up again to celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, May 25.

The theme of this year’s parade is the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield.

Brig. Gen. Gerard Bolduc and U.S. Senator Angus King, I-Maine, will be the honored guests, World War II veteran Gerry Menard will be the grand marshal, and music on the Mall will be provided by the Norembega Brass Quintet. Bands  in the parade will include Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum, Brunswick High School, Brunswick Junior High School, Mt. Ararat High School, and the Merrymeeting Community Band.

A Topsham observance and wreath laying at the Topsham Town Hall will kick things off at 8:40 a.m. The parade begins at 9 a.m., pausing for a 9:30 a.m. wreath laying on the Frank J. Woods Bridge. The parade will arrive on Maine Street in Brunswick at 9:45 a.m., and end at a gazebo at the south end of the Mall at 11 a.m., when the Brunswick observance will begin.

Main Street in Topsham will be closed to traffic at 8 a.m., and Maine Street will shut down at about 9:30 a.m.

In Harpswell, a parade will start at Harpswell Center at 11 a.m., according to Town Clerk Roz Knight. American Legion Post No. 171 will conduct a ceremonial wreath release at the Ewing Narrows Bridge at 10:30 a.m.

— Alex Lear