First Memorial Day Parade worth the anticipation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 1, 2003

Well, after months of anticipation, I did it. I am now officially no longer a newbie to the annual Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade.

And what a parade it is.

Since before I moved here, I knew about the parade. A few searches on the Internet showed me that the parade was a big part of Ironton's heritage.

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Now as a new resident of Ironton, I'd heard from the folks who love the parade and from the cynics who poke fun at the parade.

So, when a few people asked me to help out with the parade, I decided to hold off before I jumped in with both feet. I just wanted to make up my own mind about the parade; I'm funny that way.

The day started early as I was awakened by the sounds of an unusually high amount of traffic outside on Sixth Street.

A peek out the window and I could see the guts of the parade forming.

A shower and some breakfast later and I headed down to get a closer look.

What an amazing event, I thought to myself heading toward Center Street.

The morning's sights were inspiring -- people from all over Lawrence County, the Tri-State and even far outside the region coming into the heart of Ironton to celebrate the memory of those who served to protect our country.

Two things struck me about the parade.

First, it is truly a unique event and one that Ironton should hold high for the world to see. As a family oriented event, promoting the event further can only be a win-win for our community.

Second, the critics of the parade are just flat wrong. Sure, the parade may have its flaws -- at least in the eyes of some -- but it is something in which Ironton and Lawrence County can take great pride.

For me it was a unique experience, with lots of new sights and sounds -- from the sounds of the marching bands to the sights of the El Hasa Temple's myriad of floats.

As the flags waved proudly, the gray skies overhead briefly parted as the parade began rolling.

Standing outside the historic county courthouse, I saw a number of familiar faces and a few new ones.

While it was the first parade for me, a few people standing nearby were veterans.

A nice couple from Proctorville talked with me during the parade and shared their thoughts and memories about the Lawrence County tradition.

"I love the bands," the woman said. "They make the parade."

"Is that a Packard?" the man asked as the antique cars cruised past.

"We've been coming for years," the woman said, telling of their family's tradition of attending the parade.

And, after my first experience at the parade, perhaps I'll see them again next year as I continue my new tradition.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to