Memorial Day Parade
When: 10 a.m. Monday, May 29
Where: Green Street, Gainesville
More info: www.gainesville.org
A bright yellow World War II open cockpit plane will fly over Green Street to signal the start of Gainesville’s annual Memorial Day parade at 10 a.m. Monday, May 29.
The American Legion has organized the annual parade for the past 15 years.
“We do it for the community,” said Dave Dellinger, former commander of the American Legion. “There’s no money handled. We just want to keep doing it as long as we can.”
Dellinger is organizing the parade with Judy Brookshire and Cheryl Vandiver.
“When we came back from Vietnam, we didn’t get a parade,” said Dellinger, who served in the Navy for eight years from 1959-1967. “Things have changed, and that’s a good feeling.”
Gainesville police will close Green Street at 8:45 a.m. Monday and will reopen it as soon as the parade is over. Dellinger said that should be around noon. The parade will begin at First Baptist Church and end on Spring Street.
“At one time, the Memorial Day parade went around the square, but the fire trucks couldn’t really navigate the turns,” Dellinger said. “Now we just go to E.E. Butler and to Spring Street.”
The parade attracts a several residents in and around the Gainesville area and rallies a sense of patriotism. Dellinger estimates the parade drew a crowd of 5,000 people last year.
“We had people four, five, even 10 deep on Green Street,” he said. “We try to get people to donate flags, so that everyone has a little flag to wave.”
The parade has approximately 200 entrants. All entries are required to include or honor a veteran. In fact, Chestatee High School’s band is directed by Navy veteran Daniel Merck.
But not all will have a veteran marching with them. Instead several school bands will play patriotic music to pay homage to veterans.
“It honors veterans and those in now,” Dellinger said. “It gives the community a chance to say thanks and the veterans a chance to come out and see that. For veterans, it’s the highlight of our year!”
The parade will air live on TV18 and several times throughout the month.
Memorial Day festivities don’t end with the parade, though. The Northwinds Symphonic Band will play its annual patriotic concert in First Baptist Church’s sanctuary at 7:30 p.m. that night. Special guest performers include Michelle Martin, Jonathan Jackson and Col. William J. Gallagher.
“Memorial Day is for those who didn’t come back,” Dellinger said. “Those of us who came back home honor those who didn’t.”