Greenwich raises the flag to mark Bastille Day

Serge Gabriel, with the invaluable assistance of Elizabeth Dolan, raises the French flag outside of Town Hall to celebrate Bastille Day. — Ken Borsuk photo

Serge Gabriel, with the invaluable assistance of Elizabeth Dolan, raises the French flag outside of Town Hall to celebrate Bastille Day.
— Ken Borsuk photo

Greenwich has long had a strong French-American community and the early risers among them turned out Sunday morning to mark Bastille Day at Town Hall.

The event and ceremonial raising of the French flag marked what is known in France as Le Fête Nationale where in 1790 an uprising and storming of the Bastille led to the reconciliation of the people and the formation of what is today’s modern country. The flag raising has become an annual tradition at Town Hall, putting a Greenwich stamp on one of France’s biggest holidays.

The celebration was put together by the Alliance Française of Greenwich. The flag was raised at 8 a.m. and everyone marked the American-French relationship by singing both The Star-Spangled Banner and La Marseillaise, both of which were led by Serge Gabriel, the life chair of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association and a leading force behind the town’s annual Fourth of July event as well.

“We take great pride here in the town of Greenwich to celebrate important occasions in the lives of our residents and to mark their ancestry and heritage,” First Selectman Peter Tesei said at the event. “Today is one of those occasions.”

Mr. Tesei then read a proclamation officially marking Bastille Day in town, marking France’s early recognition of the United States of America and its assistance during the Revolutionary War.

“The French community and their friends have assembled at Greenwich Town Hall to mark their commitment in enhancing the business, cultural and social life of this town and to honor the shared values that are the unshakable foundation of the friendship between France and the United States,” Mr. Tesei said in the proclamation.

Mr. Tesei was joined at the event by Selectmen David Theis and Drew Marzullo as well as State Reps. Stephen Walko (R-150th) and Fred Camillo (R-151st). Town Ambassador at Large Bea Crumbine was also on hand. Jean Lachaud, president of the American Society of Le Souvenir Francais Inc., and Yann Yochum, head of the press and political office for the French Consulate in New York, were there as special guests. Mr. Yochum brought a special message for Greenwich.

“I am very happy to be among you here today,” Mr. Yochum said. “This has become a very dear tradition for the French community thanks to the Alliance Française of Greenwich. Bastille Day is a particularly important day for all the French. Liberty, freedom, equality and opportunity are shared values that our forefathers fought with conviction for. Counting Bermuda, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York there are over 80,000 French people in our consular district. You represent one of the most important communities of French ex-patriots in the world. The success of the French-American relationship is largely due to the dedication of that community.”

After the flag was raised, everyone was invited to breakfast on Greenwich Avenue at Meli-Melo and special deals were offered there all day and at nearby restaurants Le Penguin, La Panetiere and Bernard’s.

 

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