COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine — Tens of thousands of Maine-made wreaths are ready to go to Arlington National Cemetery next week.
The annual mission of Wreaths Across America was nearly sidelined over pandemic concerns last month.
With a modified plan in place, the convoy will leave Columbia Falls on Tuesday and arrive in Arlington on Saturday.
"As hectic and crazy as it's been, it's very humbling to feel that and feel how people support this mission," Karen Worcester, the co-founder of Wreaths Across America told NEWS CENTER Maine.
The organization released their modified itinerary, including stops in just Columbia, Winslow and Portland this year.
Tuesday, December 15
9:00AM Coastal Washington County Institute of Technology
12 Addison Rd., Columbia, ME 04330
10:00AM Parade through downtown Ellsworth, ME
12:45PM Arrive at Central Maine Veterans’ Memorial Park
Roderick Rd, Winslow, ME 04901
3:15PM – Arrive at Ocean Gateway, Portland ME
14 Ocean Gateway Pier, Portland, ME 04101
Wednesday, December 16
8:00AM Leave Portland (295, 95, off in Saco, Route 1 South, a small detour through York Village)
10:10AM Arrive at MA State Line
12:30PM Parade through portion of Worcester, MA
3:30PM Arrives at Regal Cinemas, Branford, CT
325 E. Main St. Branford, CT
7:30PM Cross The George Washington Bridge
Thursday December 17
9:45AM Arrive at Vietnam Veterans’ Museum, Holmdel, NJ
1 Memorial Ln, Holmdel, NJ 07733
1:30PM Arrive at Holy Rosary Church (The Guardian of the Defenders Memorial)
3200 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE 19703
3:30PM Arrive at Whitehall Village -801 Mapleton Ave., Middletown, DE 19709
6:00PM Arrive at American Legion Post 278 Kent Island -800 Romancoke Rd, Stevensville, MD 21666
Friday December 18
National Mall Memorials - TBD
Virtual Event 6:30-8:30PM – Watch LIVE on Wreaths Across America Official Facebook Page
Saturday, December 19
National Wreaths Across America Day LIVE Virtual Event at 12PM on Facebook
"It was a blow," Gold Star Mother Lorna Harris said. "But I just kinda knew that we have our miracle, you know?"
Harris and her husband Scott are going on their tenth WAA trip, in honor of their son. Dustin Harris, an Army Specialist, was killed in Iraq in 2006.
"It brought us together with something that we could share to remember Dustin and carry on his memory," Scott Harris said.
He usually drives one of the trucks filled with wreaths, but this year, only one truck will be part of the convoy as others go down in advance.
J.D. Walker, a Gold Star Father from Illinois, will be behind the wheel.
"That's an awesome honor for me being able to represent them," Walker told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Walker, who served in the U.S. Navy, lost his son Jeffrey in 2007.
"That's the reason that this is so personal," he said. "Being able to represent my son and his honor and also be able to represent the Goldstar family members."
Walker's truck filled with thousands of wreaths and a caravan of SUV's carrying those Gold Star families will be part of a smaller and shorter escort.
Wreaths Across America officials have reworked their plans to meet the COVID-19 restrictions of every state they travel through.
This year, a mobile FM radio station will allow onlookers to safely hear the stories and the mission as the vehicles pass through their town or city.
The organization also plans to live stream events throughout the route online.
"Come out and stand six feet away from each other. Put your mask on, and make the most of what we've got," Worcester said.
More than 200,000 wreaths will be placed on the graves of fallen heroes in Arlington. Thousands more will be placed by volunteers at at least 2,000 cemeteries nationwide in accordance with state guidelines.