Ed Fletcher loves Camillus.
He and his wife, Pat, have lived in the same house on Elm Street in the village since they married 53 years ago, where they raised four children. He served on the village board of trustees for 26 years -- 12 of them as mayor -- and is active in the VFW Knifetown Post 1540.
And once a year, Fletcher's affection for Camillus is reflected in the county's largest Memorial Day Parade, the planning and fundraising of which he was in charge of for more than 40 years.
Fading vision prompted Fletcher to hand over the reigns of the Camillus Memorial Day Parade to new committee chair Don Laxton and co-chair Bernie Bunce this year. But after four decades of leading the parade committee he still has a lot invested in its success, encouraging anyone to become involved and share their ideas to "help make the parade as good as its ever been or even greater."
Though he was never able to snag John Wayne as the main speaker -- "I really went out of my bailiwick then," he laughed -- more groups than ever particpate in the 64-year-old tradition, and Fletcher also measures the success by the number of "competing" parades that have popped up in neighboring communities.
He doesn't have a hard and fast formula for putting on the best parade possible, but Fletcher said its all about the music.
"You gotta have bands," he said.
Getting a head start on the $6,000 needed to stage the parade and ceremonies doesn't hurt, either. The parade committee begins meeting in January, and the first items addressed are securing a main speaker and grand marshals, and choosing a theme.
This year's parade is themed "Freedom is All Around Us," which Fletcher said was inspired by a poster he saw at the VA Hospital in Syracuse.
See the parade travel through the village for yourself at 9:30 a.m. Monday May 31.
This year's Memorial Day celebration will honor the first married couple to be chosen as the grand marshals. Find out who they are in next week's Eagle Observer.