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Memorial Day parade changes target politicians
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Next year’s Memorial Day parade may have a less political feel, as organizers are instituting some changes, including a ban on day-of marchers.

“Most of the comments we hear every year are positive, but there’s negative ones about politicians ... and not enough recognition of the veterans,” said Cheryl Vandiver, who has helped direct the event since its start 12 years ago.

Basically, all participants, except bands, will have to include or honor a veteran in some way.

“That can be a sign on an antique automobile, but they do need to recognize a veteran,” Vandiver said.

A flier that lists the changes says, “Politicians are always eager to be a part of the parade both to honor veterans and to receive recognition for their campaign or position.”

However, in addition to the veteran recognition, those participants must carry only a small sign recognizing the politician and have no more than six marchers in their group.

And a key problem has been “groups that jump in the parade at the last minute, that show up the day of the parade that we don’t know anything about,” Vandiver said. “That happened this year and in the past. They’ll jump in with another entry and we don’t know about them.

“It’s not that we’re urging politicians to participate at all — we don’t — but they want to participate.”

She said parade officials plan to “strictly enforce” who marches.

“If the application is not to us by the time it should be, they will not be in the parade,” Vandiver said. “That’s going to go for everybody, but it’s pointed most directly at politicians and the groups they bring.”

The Paul E. Bolding Post 7 American Legion sponsors the annual event, which runs primarily along Green Street and features dozens of entries, from Girl Scouts to Shriners and beauty queens.

Some 1,700 people, including high school band members, marched in this year’s parade.

Veterans from World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars, Desert Storm and the war on terror in Afghanistan also participated.

“Overall, the comments have been positive — and to be thanked by the veterans for doing that is what it’s all about,” Vandiver said.

Dave Dellinger of the American Legion post said organizers also will be working especially hard this year to get veterans of more recent wars — including Afghanistan and Iraq — to participate in the parade.

“I don’t know why we can’t get the younger ones (involved),” said Dellinger, himself a Vietnam War veteran.

Vandiver agreed.

“I don’t think they probably realize how big the parade has gotten and the crowd it draws,” she said. “It’s a long weekend and like so many other people, they’re going to be on a picnic or at the lake, or doing something like that.

“But to come do this (event) in the morning — it’s over by lunch. Just to participate in it is a good thing.”