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Chester County Press

Kennett Memorial Day Parade defies gloomy storm threats

05/29/2024 11:35AM ● By Chris Barber
Kennett Memorial Day Parade defies gloomy storm threats [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

Dire predictions of dangerous thunderstorms failed to keep Kennett Square’s annual Memorial Day Parade from making its way through the borough on Monday morning. When it was all over, not a drop of rain had fallen on the parade.

“Chris,” a member of CBM Production that was providing the audio mechanics of the parade said, “Dave Haradon and Daniel Embree decided in a phone call at seven last night to go ahead with it.”

Haradon is the chairman of the parade and Embree is the executive director of Kennett Collaborative, which oversees events in the town.

The parade began at 10 a.m. on South Broad Street across from Kennett High School and concluded with a serious ceremony honoring military members lost in battle at Union Hill Cemetery on North Union Street.

The Kennett Square Memorial Day Parade is widely considered to be the largest one in the county.

Despite the warnings of the potential for bad weather that dominated reports throughout the week, several thousand visitors got the word ahead of time that the event was on, and they showed up, lining the sidewalks along the parade route.

And even as musicians routinely protect their instruments from moisture – sometimes eschewing rainy days -- the Unionville and Kennett high school bands as well as the Kennett Alumni Band were there to provide music with what appeared to be complete attendance of their members.

The band fronts with their waving banners provided color to show off their school musicians who followed them.

The parade offered a wide variety of features to its viewers.

It began with a color guard which was shortly afterward followed by the two grand marshals sitting together in a convertible: Pete Peterson from the U.S. Marines and Les Brown from the U.S. Army.

State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-158 of West Bradford, joined State Sen. John Kane, R-160 of Chester, waving to their audience from a shared backseat. They were followed by Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick.

Various non-profit agencies, scouts and business representatives followed, as well as fire trucks, a long-legged Uncle Sam and several groups from the local Hispanic community.

In that connection, the parade provided an announcer who narrated in Spanish in addition to the usual English speaker.

Also present was Charles Brosius, the former State Secretary of Agriculture and master farmer, who was driving his recently acquired new Model T Ford and calliope.

In autumn of 2022 he slipped in his garage and broke some ribs. As he rode to the hospital in an ambulance, he was informed that his garage was on fire. It was a complete loss, including the antique cars and his beloved calliope.

He fought back, however, and has now rebuilt his garage, bought a new Model T and acquired a new calliope, which he is happy to show off. He drove it up Broad Street with the other antique cars.

The first Kennett Square Memorial Day Parade was recorded to have taken place in 1948.

In the book “Kennett Square Yesterday and Today” by Richard Taylor, Janice Taylor and Henrietta Bastalick, it is written, “[In 1948] the town held its largest parade to date, when more than 1,300 people rode or marched in the display, which featured more than 30 pieces of fire-fighting equipment.”

In recent years, Bill Taylor, himself a military veteran, led the parade for more than a decade.

It was recently taken over by Haradon and the Kennett Collaborative.