Memorial Day Parade

Americans enjoys a parade, or so it seems, as a month doesn’t go by without Americans lining up along the main street of some city or town to witness a parade. National holidays are the most popular times to hold a parade. We have just witnessed the Columbus Day Parade and what elementary school doesn’t have a Halloween Parade in the school’s parking lot? In November we have the popular Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City where tens of thousands of spectators come to see large floating balloons and wave to Santa Claus. New Year’s Day is another time of the year when whole families can be found glued to their TVs for hours watching The Pasadena Rose Parade.

The Poland Seminary High School Marching Band

Citizens of Poland, Ohio, look forward each year to their Memorial Day Parade which ends with ceremonies at the Riverside Cemetery and the loud Fourth of July Parade on South Main Street which ends with fireworks after dark at the Baird Mitchell Field.
The American Irish are famous for putting on parades in March of each year and the Mexican population in Chicago will halt traffic on Michigan Avenue on the first weekend in May when they celebrate Cinco Mayo or the anniversary of Mexico’s Independence.
When was the first parade? The Bible tells us that before the Flood every kind of animal entered Noah’s Ark, two by two. I imagine that the ancient Babylonians who were watching these animals enter the Ark got a little wet when it started to rain. Then we read that around 1,000 BC the citizens of Israel lined the streets of Jerusalem to watch young King David return victorious from a war with the Philistines. He had recaptured the Ark of the Covenant and entered the city with cymbals, harps, and horns blasting away. The crowds went wild when David, stripped down to his skivvies, danced in front of the procession. (II Samuel 6:14)
Circus parades always draw large crowds with their marching band members in colorful uniforms followed by elephants and wild animals in horse drawn wagons. The purpose of a Circus parade is to lead the town’s people to where the side shows and circus tents are being set up. You might say that all Marathon Races are parades, of sorts, with long lines of sweating runners each struggling to get ahead of those in front of them. Friends and neighbors line the streets of the 26 mile course to cheer on the runners as they pass on their way to the finish line.
The Italians, Irish and the Mexicans have been mentioned, but we must not forget the Polish American population. Poles love drama, pageantry, uniforms, and banners and they are very fond of parades. Their parades are also held the first weekend in May to celebrate their heritage which includes Generals Pulaski and Kosciusko. Chicago is known for holding the largest Polish parade in the world because there is only one other city with more Polish people and that is Warsaw, Poland. At the last count there are over 1.2 million Poles living in Chicago.
There are two other enthusiastic groups who love to march in parades. They are the Politicians and the Environmentalist. The former group will carry banners and signs encouraging the spectators to go to polls and vote for their favorite candidate while the latter group will band together at a drop of a hat to protest against people who are cutting down trees, polluting waters, or fouling the air. Parades of both groups can become violent with injuries occurring to the marchers, the jeering crowds, and even the police along the parade route assigned to keep order.
The oddest parade ever held was in a very small town in one of America’s western farm communities. The town was so small that the parade had no space to march so it stood still while the citizens of the town walked around the parade. You have got to give the parade organizers of this small town credit for overcoming a difficult problem and finding a workable solution.
One parade that should never have been held occurred in the City of Youngstown, Ohio, on November 10, 1923. This was when 20,000 hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan marched and rode horses down Market St. from Midlothian to Indianola. That was definitely one of the darkest moments in Mahoning County history and hopefully will never happen again.