Ironton Memorial Day Parade

A red, white and blue tractor and trailer with family members honoring the memory of Navy veteran Ricky Markel a son, brother, uncle, husband, dad, and papaw in the Memorial Day Parade in 2019. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDPENDENT

The committee that assembles the longest continuously running Memorial Day Parade in the nation never once entertained the idea of canceling the Ironton event, according to its organizer.

COVID-19 has drastically altered the plans, however. No spectators will be permitted, and the 152nd annual parade will be short.

“The parade is usually 12 divisions long, and a couple thousand people participate,” said organizer Lou Piles, who’s been on the committee for 30-plus years.

Piles said the parade will be contained to three blocks — starting on Center Street and concluding on Washington.

To follow government guidelines in helping thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus, the committee has asked people who’d normally be spectators to stay home and watch it on TV.

Piles said Channels 8 and 13 will televise the event as will Dave Lucas Communications — she said it can be viewed on Dave Lucas’s Facebook page.

The parade is set to begin at 10 a.m. Piles estimates it wrapping up by 10:20.

Participants and their families will be in vehicles. Among featured participants are veterans, Lawrence County EMS, the county sheriff and committee members.

James Rowe will be the grand marshal. Piles will be the parade commander.

“There won’t be handshaking or walking or anything like that,” Piles said. “It’s just different this year. Hopefully we’ll go back to normal next year.”

Piles said Ironton Mayor Samuel Cramblit was helpful in keeping the parade alive.

“We’ve done a lot of work to downsize it this year,” Piles said. “We just didn’t want the streak to stop. We don’t want to start back at 1 next year. It’s an honor and a privilege to serve on this committee.”

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