Tradition marches on (WITH GALLERY)

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Symmes Creek Restoration Committee float in the 155th Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade on Monday. (Larry Rees | For The Ironton Tribune)

155th year of Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade goes off smoothly

If there was one common message among parade organizers and local officials after Monday’s 155th Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day parade, it was that things went off perfectly.

And that was something that likely brought relief to all involved, after the upheaval of the 2020 parade event due to COVID-19 shutdowns forced a massively scaled-down line-up, followed by organizers having to work in following years to build things back to normal.

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Mayor Sam Cramblit said things went smoothly, noting that, in the lead-up to the event, there had been no major requests and all proceeded on track.

Lou Pyles, of the parade committee, said things went well, noting that the earlier forecast of rain had held off, and that things remained dry for the event.

“We had good weather and a good turnout,” she said. “There are a lot of people on the streets and a lot who came from out of town.”

In addition to its 10 divisions, which took about two hours to go the full route, the parade also featured an F-16 flyover from the 112th Fighter Squadron of the Ohio National Guard in Toledo.

Pyles’ husband Brent had contacted the Guard about the event.

He said there were 44 flyovers in Ohio for the holiday and that Ironton was one of 10 towns the aircraft flew over.

Ironton’s flyover was by Lt. Col. Tony Zelasko, who uses the call sign “Bolo,” Pyles said.

On the ground, the parade kicked off with a somber theme as veterans groups played “taps” and conducted gunnery salutes, while the riderless horse was near the start of the route.

As the event commenced, Ironton was among the earliest of schools represented, with its marching band, color guard and cheerleaders in the first division.

Local officeholders came later in the route, with county commissioners, judges and others walking the route or riding on floats.

This year marked the first return to the parade for State Rep. Jason Stephens, since he was elected as Ohio Speaker of the House in January.

Throughout the event, many regular favorites made their return, such as the El Hasa Shriners, with their band and hillbilly trucks, the Yvonne DeKay School of Dance, who have performed in the event for decades, local 4-H groups, Little League players and more.

One new float in the event this year was from Ironton-Based nonprofit Third and Center.

The group which promotes beautification and public art, had a float with a theme of “Honored Service Preserved Through Art,” Amanda Cleary, the group’s co-founder, said.

The float featured an artist, an actor a painter, a musician and a writer, she said.

Another float that was entered this year was from Bethesda Services, a recovery center based in Ironton.

Becky Bowling, with the company, said that they were honoring veterans, particularly those among their employees, represented on the float, of which there were 24.

At the end of the route, Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless waved to parade entrants as they finished their trip through downtown.

The sheriff, who rode in the event earlier himself, said “everything’s gone smooth.”

“We had no issues,” he said, noting the crowds.

He said, in addition to himself, many in law enforcement took part in the event, rising on four wheelers, side by sides and other vehicles. He said they are always on call, if needed.

Though Lawless said they “never expect trouble: during the event, they are always prepared.

Overall, he said this year’s parade was a success.

“We had great weather, great people and it’s a great day,” he said.