HERMITAGE – It was a tough decision, but the commander of the Hickory VFW said the organization had no other choice but to cancel its annual Hermitage Memorial Day Parade.
“We just don’t have the number of volunteers we need for this,’’ said Dave Darby, the Hickory VFW commander.
Pulling off the parade required a platoon of volunteers to organize the event. In recent years, fewer people were available for that duty, said Darby, a Vietnam veteran.
For years, the veteran’s group hosted the parade that marches up East State Street to America’s Cemetery. In past years, the event featured music from the Hermitage High School Band, organizations that handed out candy and veterans in uniform.
The parade has traditionally culminated in a ceremony at America’s Cemetery, along East State Street near Rexford Drive. That part of Hermitage’s Memorial Day observances will survive, Darby said.
The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27.
Other traditional Mercer County observances will continue. The Shenango Valley Memorial Day Parade begins at 11 a.m. with participants marching on Buhl Boulevard to Highland Road before heading onto Jefferson Avenue and Hull Street. The parade concludes in Oakwood Cemetery.
The Mercer Memorial Day 500 will begin at 8:30 a.m., with the raising of 500 flags. The Freedom 5K Fun Run will begin at the same time outside the Mercer post office.
Country musician Chris Higbee will perform at 9 and 10 a.m. outside the Mercer County Courthouse.
Veteran honorees for the event will be Sgt. Maj. Terrence Bolger, Master Sgt. Joseph Depuy, Lt. Col. Michael Thorn and First Sgt. John Krofcheck.
But the cancellation of Hermitage’s event still represents a loss to Mercer County’s Memorial Day tradition. Darby said he regretted that the city’s Memorial Day Parade tradition would not continue, but the job is just too big for the dwindling manpower available to help out.
“Everybody here is old,’’ he said. “Our WWII veterans are mostly gone, our Korean War veterans are mostly gone and our Vietnam War veterans will be next.’’