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Memorial Day parade gets new leader

Before the parade ever begins, there will be a changing of the guard.

Health concerns have forced Bill Ellis to step aside as parade commander for the 137th annual Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade.

In his place, another volunteer will take up where he left off. Lou Pyles was elected last week to fill Ellis' spot for the rest of the year.

Ellis began volunteering with the parade five years ago.

"We (Ellis and his wife, Dana) had just moved here 6 years ago and I knew Frank McCown from boating. He said, 'we're going to get you involved in community service. I want you to come to a parade committee meeting' and we did," Ellis explained.

It is a strong sense of patriotism that has kept him connected to the community's proudest event of the year.

Ellis nominated Pyles as his replacement.

"She has contributed so much to the parade," he said. "She is just such a worker."

Pyles and Ellis have a lot in common.

Both have worked on the parade committee five years at the request of McCown.

Both said patriotism

and gratitude for those service men and women who have gone to battle for their country was the motivation behind their involvement.

"I think (the parade) shows pride in our country and pride in our veterans. My father said 'freedom isn't free' and it isn't free. It is possible because of the sacrifices of those who have served our country. We have this parade to honor these people," Pyles said.

The annual parade will be 10 a.m. Monday, May 30. More than 25,000 people are expected to line the parade route to see the nation's oldest continuing Memorial Day parade.