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Every year, Memorial Day is celebrated in many different ways. Some people congregate at cemeteries to trim gravestones with flowers, flags, and wreaths. Others host picnics, breaking out the grill for a red, white and blue barbecue. Still others buy or wear poppies to remember America’s fallen soldiers, a tradition that emerged after the publication of John McCrae’s World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields.” And then, of course, there is arguably the biggest tradition of them all: Memorial Day parades.
This year, several cities and villages across Chautauqua County are planning parades to honor the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces, as well as to celebrate the area’s surviving veterans. Read on to discover the nearest parade near you this weekend.
The city of Jamestown is set to host its Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 29, beginning at 10 a.m. The parade will lead off on the corner of Main and 4th Street in downtown, continuing down 4th before taking a left onto Prendergast Avenue. The procession will conclude with a Veterans Circle ceremony at the Lakeview Cemetery.
“It’s looking like we’re going to have an especially good parade again this year, maybe even better than last year’s,” said Leo Penfield, President of the Joint Veterans Council of Jamestown. “Though I guess I say that just about every Memorial Day!”
Line-up for the parade will begin at 9 a.m. Many different regional veteran associations will be represented in this year’s line-up, including the Color Guard, the Blue Star and Gold Star Mothers. Jacob Grimm, Adjutant of the United Veterans Council of Jamestown, is also urging all active duty service members and veterans to come forth and take part in the parade. Veterans are welcome to wear regulation uniforms or street clothes, and if they are unable to march, they may ride on a special trailer float in the parade.
Melodie Paladino, a chief organizer of the Jamestown Memorial Day parade, says the event committee has also planned some new features for this year’s celebration.
“Each year we try to bring something new to the parade, to bring back the true meaning of the day,” she said. “One of the new events this year will be the carrying of the World War I flag that draped the coffin of Frank A. Zerba, US Army (1896-1891). This special flag will be presented to surviving family members at the Veterans Circle.”
Paladino added that another new component of this year’s memoriam will be the placement of 12 flags at selected graves around Lakeview Cemetery. Each flag will honor one of the cemetery’s most historic veterans, who were selected by the board members of the Joint Veterans Council of Jamestown.
There will also be a brief presentation to honor the Gold Star Mothers. It will be delivered by retired Air Force Major Greg Carlson, who also serves as the director of veterans’ services for the Chautauqua region. The presentation will be held at the Veterans Memorial Park at the intersection of W. 3rd Street and McDaniel Avenue in Jamestown.
Any veterans or active duty service members who wish to march in Jamestown’s Memorial Day Parade should contact Melodie Paladino at 716-450-6768.
Keeping its long-standing tradition of presenting a Memorial Day parade, the village of Mayville and the American Legion will host a parade on Monday, May 29, starting at approximately 10:15 a.m.
The parade will begin at the Chautauqua Municipal Building – formerly the Mayville High School – located at 2 Academy Street. The parade will be composed of various organizations, including local veterans and active duty service members, the Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the American Legion Auxiliary and Post members, the VFW Color Guard, and the local fire department. The parade will proceed down E. Chautauqua Avenue directly to the cemetery, where there will be a brief memorial ceremony.
Following the parade, there will be a reception luncheon at the American Legion at 144 S. Erie Street in Mayville. The luncheon is made possible by collaboration between the Mayville American Legion and VFW Post 8647.
Findley Lake will also be hosting a small Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 29. The parade will kick off at 9 a.m. and proceed through the heart of downtown Findley Lake on Main Street.
This parade will be the final culmination in a weekend-long celebration of Memorial Day in Findley Lake. The village has events planned Saturday through Monday, beginning with a Spring Fling Regatta this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The regatta is sponsored by the Findley Lake Chamber of Commerce and Kasa’s Krove, and all non-motorized vessels are welcome to participate for a $15 entry fee.
Later that day, from noon to 4 p.m., there will be a Brigadoon Tap Takeover at Mazza Five and 20 Brewery, featuring local craft beer vendors. There will also be bake sales, Chinese auctions, a 50/50 raffle and other events taking place at the Findley Lake Volunteer Fire Department, located at 10372 Main Street, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
No matter where you live in Chautauqua County, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate America’s fallen heroes this weekend. So get out this Memorial Day, thank a veteran, and remember all those who have died to defend your freedom.