‘I love it, I love it’: Moreno enthused about watching Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 29, 2024

For The Ironton Tribune

The city’s annual Memorial Day parade has a storied history, dating back to just after the civil war, and usually draws thousands of visitors each year to Ironton, and, on Monday, it had its most famous spectator ever.
Rita Moreno, Academy Award-winning actress and singer, was in town to visit her manager, Ironton resident John Ferguson and spent a week in the city, taking part in an event at Ohio University Southern on Sunday. Her visit was timed specifically so she could stick around and see the parade, which she watched with Ferguson and his mother from a home on South Sixth Street.
Moreno was visible enjoying herself, cheering on the participants from her lawn chair.
“Oh, this is beautiful,” she said. “I love it. I love it, because it’s local and everyone has the kind of enthusiasm that is missing these days in America.”
Clad in sunglasses and an Ohio University hat she had received the night before, Moreno blended in with the crowd. A few passersby recognized her and asked for photos and autographs, which she graciously agreed to.
Moreno, also a singer and dancer, famed for her signature role in “West Side Story,” gave a big sign of approval to a young generation of dancers from the city, waving and giving a thumbs up to students from the Yvonne DeKay School of Dance.
At another point, J.L. Mick , the swordsman leading the El Hasa Shriners band, walked over to her and greeted her.
Moreno said she was thrilled that the weather held up and, instead of the originally-forecast rain, it was warm and sunny.
“What a gorgeous day it’s been!” she said.
While staying in the area, Moreno also visited a few local businesses, such as The Shakery in Ironton and Christian Alexander Home in Ashland, Kentucky.

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