Parade allows all to say #039;thanks#039;

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

It will start with a 5K run and will end when the last horses trot the length of the parade route.

Lawrence County's annual salute to veterans is a day-long affair with numerous activities. The most prominent is the 137-year-old parade that is a point of pride for Lawrence County as the longest, continuous Memorial Day parade in the nation.

"This is our way of saying 'thank you' to the men and women who have served our country in war time and in peace time," Parade Grand Marshal Jan Wisenberger said.

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"This is our community's way of acknowledging the sacrifices that have been made generation after generation to keep our country free."

The Fourth Annual Veterans Memorial Day Road Race 5K run begins at 8 a.m. Approximately 150 runners of all ages are expected to take part. The race will begin and end at the Liebert Corporation parking lot.

At 8:30 a.m., a special ceremony honoring the 216th Ohio Army National Guard Engineering Battalion will take place on the Lawrence County Courthouse steps.

At 10 a.m., the 137th annual Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade will commence. The procession begins at Center and Sixth streets, follows Center Street to Third Street; turns south on Third and follows Third Street to Quincy Street, turns left on Quincy Street and follows Quincy Street to Sixth Street and returns to the area of the courthouse.

A military jet flyover will take place just before the start of the parade.

More than 2,000 people are expected to participate. That includes more than a half dozen marching bands, more than nine floats and scores of churches, civic and school groups.

The honorary grand marshal is the 216th Engineer Battalion. Serving with Wisenberger at the head of the procession is parade commander Lou Pyles. The parade theme this year is "Strength and Honor."

An estimated 25,000 people will stand along the parade route and watch the procession pass by.

The parade and its accompanying activities is an opportunity for Ironton to shine as it welcomes literally thousands of visitors.

"Memorial Day serves as a homecoming for many Irontonians who have moved elsewhere. But we always welcome them back home with open arms," Mayor John Elam said. "It is my hope that everyone enjoys the Memorial Day weekend and participates in the many events throughout our city."