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Parade kicks off Memorial Day celebrations
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Memorial Day parade
When: 10 a.m. Monday
Where: Green Street from First Baptist Church to E.E. Butler Parkway, Gainesville
How much: Free
More info: Dave Dellinger, 770-718-7676, or Roger Keebaugh, 770-869-7941

Last year, there were so many participants in the annual Memorial Day parade it took more than an hour for everyone to file out of First Baptist Church’s parking lot to start the parade.

This year, there are even more participants — so expect an even grander parade to wind through downtown Gainesville.

Local World War II veterans will serve as grand marshals of the parade, said one of the event’s organizers, Dave Dellinger, and the honorary grand marshal is Mack Abbott, a World War II vet who also is president of the National Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

“There will be a flyover by an open cockpit bi-plane at 10 a.m., and a Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by four or six horses,” said Dellinger, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 772. “It will probably be longer this year; I would say a good 100 (groups), anyway. And then some of the groups have 40 or 50 in them, either marching or some of the old car clubs.”

The parade also will feature WWII-era Jeeps and lots of vintage cars, and the Chestatee High School marching band. The Gainesville Police honor guard will lead off the parade.

But the parade is just one of many events happening this weekend.

After the parade makes its way down Green Street to E.E. Butler, onlookers can head over to Roosevelt Square, off the downtown Gainesville square, for hot dogs and hamburgers provided by the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“We have about 35 booths, a train for the kids to ride in, and we’re going to have that start as soon as the parade is over,” Dellinger said. “That starts as soon as the parade is over, and we invite all the public to come.”

Also following the parade, the Northeast Georgia History Center will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday in observance of Memorial Day. Admission is free, and artifacts and memorabilia from WWII and other eras will be on display.

Throughout the day on Monday, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office will keep a vigil in the veterans section of Memorial Park Cemetery off Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville. Starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, a deputy will be keeping watch, marching in 45-minute shifts at the cemetery for 24 hours. At 11 a.m. Monday, Sheriff Steve Cronic will lead a program featuring a guest speaker and recognizing Capt. Jeff Moran, commander of the local Georgia National Guard Charlie Company unit.

On Monday evening, the Northwinds Symphonic Band will present its annual concert honoring soldiers. For more information, see the story on Page 13.

Elsewhere, Memorial Day celebrations include boat rides and games in Helen, and a musical tribute in Suwanee.

The Memorial Day Blast will take place Friday through Monday at Unicoi State Park on Ga. 256 in Helen. Admission is $2 to $4 for events and $5 for parking.

In Suwanee, the Memorial Weekend Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the town center park and features The U.S. Army Ground Forces Band as well as a sky-jumping demonstration by the Silver Wings and display of an Army Blackhawk aircraft. The event is free.

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