Feb 29, 2012 Amanda Seef Uncategorized
It’s a little more than three months away, but volunteers are deep into the planning process for the western suburbs’ most coveted celebration — the Camillus Memorial Day Parade.
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The annual celebration brings thousands of people to the village, packing in for the two ceremonies and traditional parade and paying tribute to those lost in the line of duty.
“It’s to remember those military people who died in service to our country, usually in combat,” said parade committee chairperson and Air Force veteran Don Laxton. “It’s important to continue to remember their sacrifice.”
The theme for the 66th annual parade, slated for Monday, May, 28, is “Because they gave their all.”
Now, committee members are giving their all to get the parade up and running in an effort to commemorate the fallen and recognize those who have passed.
They begin planning early in the year, sending out fundraising letters and inviting politicians and dignitaries. Right now, they’re in the middle of sending letters to businesses asking for support for the parade, the two ceremonies on Memorial Day and the flags placed at veterans’ graves in three area cemeteries.
The majority of funds raised will go toward purchasing the flags. More than 4,000 are purchased for graves in three cemeteries in the village and town of Camillus.
Letters are going out to businesses now seeking donations to keep the parade going. The popular star program will be back this year, too. A sign at Camillus Town Hall boasts those who have purchased stars for the program to remember or honor. Each star is hand-painted by the Camillus Parks and Recreation Department, Laxton said.
The parade committee is coming off a more intense year — every five years, the alumni band comes back to play in the parade. That brings 500 band members, plus friends and family, to the town. They’re expected back in 2016.
The whole parade is organized by “a handful of people” in the American Legion and VFW, Laxton said. Prior to the parade, a 7:45 a.m. ceremony is held at Town Hall with a 21 gun salute and officers from the fire departments, police departments and politicians. A second ceremony is held in the village following the parade.
“The whole meaning of the parade is expressed [in these ceremonies],” Laxton said.
The parade draws from most of Onondaga County, and has made its name for being one of the biggest parades in the area, Laxton said.
“It’s all about being an American,” he said. “We can never forget. We must never forget. It’s one of those things that makes us strong as a people. Keeps us united. [Remembering soldiers] is your duty as an American. As a patriotic American.”