Miller, Hapney present Memorial Day parade commentary

Published 3:20 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

By Terry L. Hapney, Jr.
The Ironton Tribune

What began as a “one-time deal” in 1998 turned into a tradition for two Tri-State media representatives.
The late Connie Adkins of Ironton, at that time on the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade committee, called J.B. Miller one day prior to the parade that year asking him if he could provide commentary for it for the cable broadcast made possible by students in the Ohio University Southern Campus electronic media program.
“The people who normally provided the commentary back then were he weather,” Miller said.
Miller agreed to host the broadcast; he immediately called his then neighbor and friend who lived a block away from him in Ironton—Terry L. Hapney, Jr.—asking him if he would help co-host the commentary for the event. Miller and Hapney had worked together at radio stations in the Tri-State region and were working for the same company at the time. Hapney accepted the assignment and the rest is history.
“The 2024 parade coming up this Monday marks more than a quarter century with us providing play-by-play and commentary,” Hapney said. “This year it is a livestream event once again.”
From 1998-2016 during Miller’s and Hapney’s time as co-hosts, the parade was carried by local cable companies, which meant it was delayed and not carried live. Beginning in 2017, David Lucas Communication began producing the livestream—carried on the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade’s Facebook page—from just in front of Ironton’s City Center. Other Facebook pages that carry the parade include “All Points” and “Christian Connection,” in addition to the Parade’s YouTube channel.
It is also picked up by networks of the United States Armed Forces so that those in the service can see it. On average, views of the Parade’s annual livestream number 168,000, with a total reach of 210,000. The livestream allows Tri-State residents and folks across the globe who cannot attend the parade in person to watch it and listen to the commentary.
Miller said the parade is part of “growing up” in Lawrence County.
“That’s what you do on Memorial Day,” he said. “It’s an automatic that you watch the parade. That’s the way it was for my family and me.”
Miller said his family always participated in the parade in some form. His brother was in the band and his sister was a majorette. His grandfather was with the United Commercial Travelers (UCT). That organization had a float in the parade.
“We always went because family was in it,” Miller said. “It’s in your blood if you’re from the Ironton area. It’s a generational tradition.”
Miller participated for many years as a band member, a cub scout, and a media personality driving radio station vehicles; Hapney also represented radio stations in the parade—up until the time they began providing commentary for the cable broadcast and then the livestream.
While there are many memories of local and regional figures stopping by during the parade to chat with Miller and Hapney over the years, one of the highlights was when an Ohio governor walked the parade route.
“Governor Ted Strickland stopped by for a nice chat,” Hapney said.
Miller also recalled when Ohio’s First Lady, Frances Strickland, stopped by for an interview with Hapney and him.
“Nobody told me who she was,” Miller said with a laugh. “I did an entire interview with her, live, with no way for anyone to tell me.”
In many cases, people will walk up to talk and in the moment the commentators may not know who they are.
“You begin interviewing them in hopes you ask a question that will trigger who the person is,” Miller said. “I interviewed this woman who simply walked up to us. I did the whole interview without knowing who she was! As she passed, I leaned over to (Hapney) and asked, ‘Who was that?’ You said, ‘That was the governor’s wife!’”
“You didn’t miss a beat, and no one knew otherwise,” Hapney said with a chuckle.
Miller’s day jobs consist of waking up Tri-State area radio listeners as a morning show co-host on Big Buck Country 101.5 radio station in Huntington. He is also manager of the Habitat for Humanity of the Tri-State’s ReStore in Huntington. Hapney is a full professor of public relations, advertising and journalism at Marshall University and a reporter for the Ironton Tribune.
Local residents may start sharing the Parade’s Facebook page with friends and family across the world so they will not miss the 2024 Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade. It is located at
“There’s another cool feature,” Miller said. “We always ask viewers to share with us where they’re watching the parade from; those who can’t make it can watch it online. We couldn’t do that when it was solely carried on TV. It has more of a worldwide audience now.”
“You can watch it on your smartphone, smart TV, desktop, laptop, or tablet,” Hapney said.
The 156th Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, the longest, continuously running Memorial Day parade in the United States, begins at 10 a.m. on Monday. The theme this year is “Life, Liberty, USA.” Miller and Hapney are joined annually for the livestream commentary by Jason Toy of the Kindred Communications radio stations in Huntington.

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