Nearly 200 people filled Cochran Square in Middletown on Thursday when Wreaths Across America stopped in town for a special ceremony to honor fallen servicemen and women.
About half of those in attendance were part of the convoy from Maine, the home of Wreaths Across America, which this year will deliver nearly 150,000 Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Among them were Morrill and Karen Worcester, who founded what has become known as the world's largest veterans parade. Joining the Worcesters were Maine's First Lady Ann LePage, Maine State Troopers, Gold Star families, members of the Maine Wing Civil Air Patrol and the drivers of at least a dozen tractor-trailers hauling the wreaths.
They were joined by local veterans, active military, town officials, police officers, volunteer firefighters and area residents, like Melissa Davis of Clayton and her daughter Michela.
"My grandfather is buried at Arlington and today would have been his birthday," she said. "Coming here today is our way of celebrating him."
During the brief ceremony, Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner welcomed the guests, while Morrill Worcester expressed his gratitude to the town for hosting them.
The event closed with four wreaths being laid at the World War I Monument in Cochran Square by Al Brown, a member of Sgt. William Lloyd Nelson VFW Post 3792 and a national honor guard member at Arlington National Cemetery, Brig. Gen. Terry Wiley of the Delaware Army National Guard, VFW Post 2792 Commander Sherri Leslie and American Legion Post 25 Commander Ray Abbott.
Those in attendance then formed a circle and sang, "God Bless America."
Afterward, those traveling with Wreaths Across America retired to the firehouse of Volunteer Hose Company for a banquet dinner.
The Wreaths Across America convoy will begin laying their wreaths at Arlington on Saturday. At the same time, 350,000 wreaths will to be laid at more than 900 other locations throughout the world, including Cooch's Bridge Battlefield and the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear.
Middletown resident Maj. Kevin Conley of the Delaware Air National Guard will officiate the 10 a.m. ceremony hosted by the Pencader Heritage Area Association at Cooch's Bridge Battlefied on Old Baltimore Pike, between South College Avenue and Chapel Street, in Newark.
State Sen. Bethany Hall Long (D-Middletown), state Rep. Earl Jaques (D-Glasgow), American Legion Post 10 of Delaware City and American Legion Post 25 of Middletown also are expected to attend the event, along with other veteran organizations and members of the public.
In the meantime, check out our video from Thursday night's event above and then click on the link to our photo gallery from the event just under the photo.