Ocean Avenue, from Walton Street to Payson Park, as well as Reed Street and Canco Road will be closed for about two hours Sunday afternoon and evening (4:30 p.m. to about 6:30 p.m.) as a motorcade representing Wreaths Across America makes its way to and from Cheverus High School.
The Portland stop, which will include a public wreath blessing ceremony at the school, comes as the convoy makes its way to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. where the wreaths will be laid as part of a larger event.
Here’s an excerpt from a city announcement of the local visit, including some history of the project and the special motivation one Portland police officer has to take part:
First conceived in 1992 by Morrill Worcester, President of the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrison, Maine, the project has grown to include the delivery of more than 20,000 wreaths to the Arlington National Cemetery and deliveries to more than four hundred local, state and national veteran’s cemeteries and monuments as well as twenty-four offshore cemeteries including Normandy Beach. This remarkable effort pays homage to the sacrifices American veterans and their families have made and during the holiday season highlights the collective spirit of appreciation for these men and women.
Embarking on its twentieth trip to Arlington earlier that day, the convoy will arrive in Portland in the afternoon and be accompanied by a Portland Police Department escort to Cheverus High School for a brief ceremony and a blessing of the wreaths including one which will be hung on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The wreaths will then continue their trip south arriving the morning of December 10th where the convoy will be greeted by thousands of volunteers from across the nation who will help lay the wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.
Portland Police Officer Kevin Haley, whose brother William Haley is buried at Arlington, is credited with building strong community support for the effort with the Portland Police Department the first department to provide escort to the convoy in the nation several years ago. Haley and other participants from the Police and Fire Departments as well as Cheverus swimmers he coaches will volunteer in Arlington during the wreath laying ceremony.