Thousands enjoy Kennett Square’s Memorial Day Parade05/30/2022 11:28PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The turnout for Kennett Square’s Memorial Day Parade on Monday showed just how eager the public was for its return.
Concerns and restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the parade in 2020 and a substantially reduced ceremony in 2021. Additionally, there was a frequently mentioned concern that Bill Taylor, who had led the extravaganza for years, had announced his retirement in 2019.
This year, with perfect weather and widespread publicity abounding, spectators started arriving an hour before the announced 10 a.m. start, and they gathered at least three-deep along the Broad Street and State Street sections of the procession. Attendance was estimated in the thousands.
“This was a great parade,” could be heard throughout the crowd as that last fire truck rolled by.
Moving through town from South Street up the hill to State Street and then out to the Union Hill Cemetery, the parade extended for more than an hour and a half.
It offered a wide variety of marchers from scores of antique vehicles and military companies to floats from local businesses. The school bands from Kennett and Unionville brought music and flags near the beginning, and bagpipe players were sprinkled among the other attractions.
The usual Shriner motorcycle riders were on hand, zooming in circles, as well as scouts, tractors and a couple of Uncle Sams on stilts. There was also a substantial representation of Latino culture including dancers, marchers and several dancing horses. Two Chinese dragons weaved from one side of the street to the other, and a bevy of little girls with batons showed their skills along the way.
Following the procession through town, a tribute at the cemetery honored those who had given their lives for their country while serving in the military.
Much of the credit for this year’s event can be attributed to community activist Dave Haradon and the committee that helped plan the parade and all its details. Haradon led the formation of the committee and vowed not to let the traditional event die. Taylor, the former parade chairman, said that he was persuaded to help out as well—which he gladly did. The masters of ceremony were Nick Perigo and Doug Stirling.
Meanwhile in West Grove, the borough honored its deceased military residents with a small-town parade on Saturday morning.
The marchers, including the Avon Grove High School band, local service organizations, antique vehicles and scouts, was organized, as it has been for years, by barbershop owner/operator John Ruffini. He said he had been nervous all night preceding the event as thunderstorms rumbled by.
The parade was followed by a tribute in the borough memorial park and a community lunch at the West Grove Presbyterian Church.
The speaker at that ceremony was retired U.S. Army Col. Cynthia Abbadini, who told her audience “Memorial Day is about saying ‘Thank you.’ It’s about gratitude to remember those who died.”