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Nation’s longest, continuously held Memorial Day Parade will take place

Memorial Day Parade (paperin123/Flickr)

Ohio’s oldest Memorial Day parade, which has taken place every year for the last 151 years, has found its way to sustain that tradition for another year, despite health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

An open letter from Brent Pyles, President of the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade Trustees, to the community posted on the event’s Facebook page reflected that the 2020 version of Ohio’s oldest and the nation’s longest, continuously held Memorial Day parade will continue, despite many other public events of similar nature being canceled.

“Much like you, the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade Committee is closely following the developments regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and the measures being instituted to help give us the best chance of containing the virus,” the release read. “We are tuned in to the press briefings from Ohio Gov. DeWine and the ODH to keep up with the information that is known about the virus, social distancing rules, the prohibitions on mass gatherings and how we can all help control its spread here in our community.”

Pyles states that health concerns regarding COVID-19 indeed became first and foremost in their decision whether or not to continue the parade into its’ 152nd year of existence. Although there were doubts as to whether the parade which has persisted each and every year, including during both World Wars, would continue, Pyles said that Parade Trustees have opted to continue the parade another year in adherence to the state of Ohio’s stay-at-home order and federal social distancing guidelines.

In addition, patrons who would normally attend may view the annual tradition via the parade’s online stream of the procession.

“We are deeply concerned about the best way to preserve the legacy of the Nation’s longest, continuously held Memorial Day Parade, to memorialize the veterans that have sacrificed their lives to protect our Nation and still follow proper health and safety mandates during this challenging time. After consultation with government and health officials, the ILCMDP Trustees have opted to drastically shorten the Parade, limit participation to approved units only, and ask that Parade spectators stay at home, observe social distancing rules and watch the Parade on social media or via live streaming. We cannot safely conduct the Parade as normal, with thousands of people standing side-by-side. Therefore, we will cordon off the parade route using law enforcement, VFD and volunteer radio units. Specifically, this isolation order shall be enforced to the extent set forth in Ohio law (R.C. 3701.352 and 3701.56) More information about the Parade will be forthcoming, as Memorial Day grows nearer and details are finalized. Please understand the need for strict adherence to the rules.”

In any other year, over 30,000 people would visit Ironton for the Memorial Day Parade which will now feature just those participating as designated by the trustees and the city.

Pyles concluded the letter by stating that he looks forward to the day when those parade-goers may honor those military members who’ve fallen in the line of duty, as they hope to do in-person for the 153rd edition of the ILCMDP.

“The good news is this will end, and when it does, we know that you and your family will undoubtedly be ready for next year’s Parade and get back to life as normal.”


© 2020 The Portsmouth Daily Times