Annual Memorial Day Parade attracts thousands

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2003

They came for different reasons.

Four-year-old Kirsten McKnight of Flatwoods, Ky., came to see the clowns and to get candy. Her brother, 2-year-old Damian McKnight, came to see the fire trucks. Mark Davidson of Coal Grove came to see the antique cars.

Sixteen-month-old Brianna Spurlock of Hanging Rock obviously came to see the bands. Standing on the sidelines in front of her grandparents, Bill and Maxine Spurlock, she bopped and waved every time a band marched past.

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Whatever people came to see, the 2003 edition of the The Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade apparently delivered.

The more-than-three-hour-long procession capped a week of observances honoring the men and women who have served the country in the armed services.

For some, the Memorial Day weekend and the annual parade is an excuse to come back to Ironton and visit with family and friends.

"I'm originally from this area,

and I came to be with family," John Day of Elkview, W.Va. said. "I try to come to the parade every year."

The same was true of Cheri Barbee, of Columbus. She and her daughter, Samantha, sat beside her mother, Dorothy Mayne, and other family members to watch the parade. "I'm originally from here, and I try to come every year," Barbee said.

The parade began with the traditional Color Guard and gunnery salute, provided by the VFW Post 8850, and shortly afterward by the riderless horse, symbolizing the soldier who went to battle and gave his life fighting for his country.

The theme this year was "Proud To Be An American."

Calvary Baptist Church won the "Best Theme" award with its float bearing the words "Proud To Be An American" and "Proud Of Our Church" and "The Truth Will Make You Free."

The Grand Marshal's award went to Liebert Corporation. It depicted America's founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence. Beside them was a map of the United States painted in patriotic colors behind them.

First Baptist Church was granted The "Parade Commanders" award. In a nod to the state's bicentennial, that float bore the words "Ohioans Are Proud To Be American," and "200 Years Of Freedom".

The "Past Grand Marshal's" award this year went to Genesis, whose float featured Uncle Sam.

The "Honorary Grand Marshal's" award went to Christ Episcopal Church for its "Defenders Of Peace" float that featured the Statue of Liberty and cheering children.

The "Civic" award went to Ice Creek Missionary Baptist Church for its float that featured a Conestoga wagon and pioneers.

One entry made mention of the service men and women who served in the nation's most recent conflict, the war in Iraq. The Kountry Kids 4-H float bore the names of Iraqi war casualties.

Two floats this year had live performers who sang as they rolled the parade route: Central Christian Church

had a vocalist and a five-piece band.

Sugar Creek Missionary Baptist Church had a vocalist who sang to taped accompaniment.

The parade committee will meet early next month to reflect on this parade, and then take a summer-long break before starting work on the 2004 edition of the 135 year-old tradition.