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First Patriots Ball Saturday starts parade events

To honor the 150th year of the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, there will be the Patriots Ball on Saturday.

“It’s the longest running continuous Memorial Day parade in the nation,” said Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith. “So, we thought that was worthy of celebrating at high magnitude.”

So, Keith said she sat down to hash out ideas with Lawrence County Commissioner DeAnna Holliday, Rick Jansen, Sharee McDonald of Weber’s Florist, Carla Salyers of Lawrence County ESC and Dick Fisher and Brad Bear of Bear Media Services, and came up with the idea of the Patriots Ball.

“We decided we wanted to do a black tie event,” Keith said.

She said it was amazing to think that the longest running Memorial Day parade is in Ironton and that she wanted to honor the Ironton-Lawrence County Parade Committee for all the hard work of organizing the parade and the many events that take place in conjunction with it.

“It’s a huge deal and worthy of being celebrated,” she said. “We really wanted to recognize the parade committee for making sure this comes off year after year after year. And the integrity of it, this isn’t some big marketing gesture where everybody gets out and campaigns. It is truly about the soldiers and those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy.”

She said many people think of Memorial Day as just a holiday to cook out.

“I tell people that it is more than that to us here in Lawrence County,” Keith said. “It is the very fiber of who we are and we appreciate our military, those who served as well as their families.”

Congressman Bill Johnson will be on hand to rededicate the parade as the oldest and continuous running Memorial Day Parade in the nation.

The entertainment for the ball will be Paul Draper, a mentalist who performs in Las Vegas, musician Frank Grasso and DJ Bravo Live.

The tickets for the event are already sold out.

As for whether there is a Patriots Ball next year, Keith said only if someone else takes it over.

“For me, it’s a one and done. I didn’t realize how much work goes into it,” she said.  “But it is worth it and it is a worthy cause.”