One parade for Memorial Day
By Fran Odyniec
The tradition of observing Memorial Day in Plain City with two parades has come to an end.
At its work session of Monday, June 18, the Plain City Village Council voted unanimously to “reserve Memorial Day’s parade for veterans.”
“I love it,” said Veterans spokesperson Bernie Vance of the council’s decision. “We’ve tried for years to come up with a way to work two parades into one, and have never been able to do it.”
“I was disappointed in this decision,” said Chris Duckworth, president of the Plain City Area Baseball Association (PCABA). “The decision by council to eliminate our parade affects a great number of people, many of whom are veterans themselves.”
For the last 50 years, two parades have taken place on the morning of Memorial Day in the village: the Veterans’ parade at 9 o’clock and the PCABA’s Little League parade at 11:30. Each parade culminates with its own ceremony: The Veterans hold a memorial observance at Forest Grove Cemetery; the PCABA holds a season opening ceremony at the ball field at Pastime Park.
“For years, it’s been too long a topic of discussion,” said council President Pro Tem Mark Hostetler, who brought the subject before the council at its work session. His action was prompted by a “Letter to the Editor” that had appeared in the Saturday, May 26, 2012 edition of The Plain City Advocate.
Co-authored by Bob Baldridge, commander of American Legion Post 248 and David L. Mitchell, commander of Plain City VFW Darby Post 3268, the letter stated: “We feel that they (PCABA) should have their own parade if they want to but not on Memorial Day. Leave that one day to honor our War dead. The Little League could have their parade any of the other 364 days of the year.”
At its work session, council was of the belief that both organizations had arrived at a workable plan. However, council learned about a week prior to Memorial Day, that both organizations had not come to an agreement. As a result, the village had two parades.
Council member Shawn Kaeser is of the opinion that Memorial Day in Plain City should be dedicated to the veterans.
“It seems that they have earned that right,” Kaeser said in a telephone interview. “This is their day.”
“We all seemed to have the same feeling,” said council member Doug Saxour. “It’s a day about the people who served and died for their country.”
“We need the kids involved,” Hostetler said of the veterans parade. “There are very few children at the ceremony. It’s a special day that’s been set aside. I’d like to see children get what it’s all about. It’s not just school and baseball.”
In its discussion, council agreed that since Memorial Day is no longer opening day for the PCABA season (which now opens in advance of Memorial Day), it would move to reserve Memorial Day’s parade for the veterans.
PCABA’s Duckworth gave reasons for his disappointment in council’s decision.
“The PCABA Memorial Day Parade and Celebration is a community event that goes back nearly 50 years,” he said in a text message to The Advocate, “and is attended by several thousand people.”
Duckworth stated that the PCABA has never been informed of any specific reasons as to why the VFW is unwilling to participate in a combined parade.
“The PCABA has always been open to working with the VFW to create a parade that meets with the needs of the entire town,” he said. “Evidently, VFW membership changed their mind.”
Mayor Sandra Adkins said that the cost in overtime for the police department and public works department that two parades create for the village also influenced council’s decision.
“We’re not going to pay overtime on a holiday like that,” said Kaeser. “Financially, it doesn’t make any sense.”
“The bottom line is that the holiday is for a memorial observance,” Adkins said. “That is the position of council.”
“Everybody on council said that it was the right thing to do,” said council member Jim Moore. “It needs to mean something to people.”
“I’d like to see something worked out with the kids involved and understand that the freedom we have comes from what veterans have done for our country,” said Hostetler.
Saxour pointed out that “we’re not telling the PCABA that they’re not allowed to march and be in a parade on Memorial Day. If they want to, they’ll have to join the Vets’ parade.”
Vance said, “They can move their parade to another day, but you can’t move Memorial Day, a day that was set by Congress.”
However, council members, the veterans, and the PCABA have indicated that they hope some sort of compromise is possible.
“We’re open for discussion to include the kids in our parade,” said Vance. “We’re not anti-little league.”
“I still hold out hope that with the strong leadership of the village, a comprehensive Plain City Memorial Day Celebration can be organized that meets the needs of all of the town’s residents,” Duckworth said.
“I would hope there would be compromise,” said Hostetler.
The next meeting of the Plain City Village Council is Monday evening, June 25 at seven o’clock at the Plain City Municipal Building, 213 S. Chillicothe St.