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Chester County Press

Classic small-town parade marks West Grove’s memorial ceremony

05/30/2023 03:01PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Anyone who is looking for a classic small-town parade can find it in West Grove on the Saturday before Memorial Day.
Barber Shop owner-operator John Ruffini now leads the effort to plan the event. His late father, Dominico, handled those duties before him, so the Ruffinis have been putting the Avon Grove Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony event together every year for the last 23 years.
It is a simple and low-key event, but is dear to the hearts of the local residents. It begins with a march down Prospect Avenue, moves onto a service and wreath-laying at the Veterans’ Memorial Plaza and concludes with a community brunch and music at the West Grove Presbyterian Church.
This year, for the first time in recent memory, the East Penn freight train roared through town 10 minutes before the first marchers came down the hill.
A few hundred spectators showed up shortly before the 9 a.m. parade starting time. Many of them were parents of Avon Grove High School band members, whom they had just dropped off in preparation for their musical and flag performance. Others were local residents who make a habit of coming every year.
The parade itself is highlighted mostly by home-town groups and individuals, featuring first responders, motorcycles, scouts, Little Leaguers and non-profits.
As usual, West Grove Fire Company contributed a visit by its restored truck, Elsie.
Traditionally, the Avon Grove service features a short speech by a military veteran. This year, U.S. Army veteran SSG Paul Abrams urged his audience to take seriously the meaning of Memorial Day and those who had lost their lives in service to America.
“It’s not just barbecues and going to the beach. It’s about thinking about the people we lost,” he said.
He added that he has always been inspired and driven by a poem sent to him from bis father, who served in Vietnam.
It begins, “There will be few who will be brave enough to walk away from the secure life.”
“It reminds me that serving other people is the most important thing you can do,” he concluded.
He then joined Ruffini by laying a wreath on the Veterans Memorial stone in the park.
Abrams is currently a medical device sales leader and consultant, owning a company call RTB Limited.  He also runs and operates a Stop the Bleed training company called Doc Abrams Training and Consulting.
Rev. Jim Mundell of the West Grove United Methodist Church presented the invocation and benediction. He asked for the blessings of God to “Bless our local residents who served our country during the various wars. They have given their all so that we have been kept free.”
The master of ceremonies was U.S. Army veteran Vicki Dash-Slesinski. “Taps” was played by Bradley Gierwig and Lars Trone of the Avon Grove Marching Band. Additional parade committee members include Tom Muller and Diane Ruffini.