The 45th Annual Sailing Masters of 1812 Burning of the Ships Ancient Fife & Drum Parade began at Essex Town Hall and ended at the cul de sac in front of the Connecticut River Museum. The festive event — attended by hundreds of people on this warm, sunny day — drew corps from as far away as Niantic and Massachusetts — and was highlighted by a speech from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Saturday.
Malloy commended the Sailing Masters for 50 years of keeping the historical Essex parade alive. He was joined by First Selectman Norm Needleman and state Rep. Phil Miller (D-36th) and museum directory Jerry Roberts, among others.
On the second Saturday of each May since 1964, the "Sailing Masters of 1812" of Essex marks the Burning of the Ships with an ancient fife and drum corps parade down Main Street and ceremony at the steamboat dock, wearing historical United States naval uniform.
Joining them were 14 other fife & drum corps, including Niantic, Deep River, the Connecticut Valley Field Music (based in Middletown), Stony Creek, Totoket Ancient from Branford, Colonial Navy of Massachusetts, Fall River; and Mystic Highland Fife Band, and women dressed in period garb lined the beginning of the parade route.
In the crowd was Melissa Schlag, the former executive director of Citizens for Protection of Public Lands in Connecticut, who was instrumental in opposing the , the green party challenger to Democrat Eileen Daily for Connecticut State Senate District 33. She was collecting signatures on a petition from residents of the district, which stretches from Portland, East Haddam and East Hampton, all the way to Chester and parts of Old Saybrook.