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Berlin’s Old Fashion Memorial Day Parade set May 27

Berlin’s Old Fashioned Memorial Day Parade, a longstanding tradition in the town, is set to begin at 11 a.m. at Stephen Decatur Middle School and continue along Flower Street to Henry Park.

Berlin parade-'23

A scene from last year’s Old Fashioned Memorial Day Parade in Berlin.
File photo

By Charlene Sharpe, Associate Editor

A longstanding tradition will continue next week with Berlin’s Old Fashioned Memorial Day Parade.

The parade, which typically brings thousands of visitors and residents to Flower Street, will feature an array of floats, dance groups and marching units. The parade will start at 11 a.m. at Stephen Decatur Middle School and end at Henry Park.

“It’s something people recognize as Berlin’s opportunity to say thank you to the families and memorialize those who died in service,” organizer Gregory Purnell said. 

Memorial Day recognitions within the community will actually begin Sunday, as Duncan Showell Post 231 will be turning out at St. John’s United Methodist Church on Lewis Road at 10 a.m. for a special Memorial Day service. The following day, Post 231 members will spend Memorial Day morning visiting local cemeteries to place flags and play taps to honor local residents who served in the armed forces.

They’ll be in line and ready to lead the parade at 11 a.m. however, as entries will march from Stephen Decatur Middle School down Flower Street to Henry Park. Purnell expects about 30 entries to participate in this year’s event, for which the theme is “Honoring the Past and Embracing the Future.” A prize of $100 will be awarded to the best float. A variety of food and craft vendors will be set up for attendees to browse after the parade, and the band Uprizing is set to perform. There will also be a dance competition at Henry Park.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of dancing,” Purnell said. 

Purnell said a special effort this year was being made to honor local veterans who died on active duty, including Mitchell Brown, Samuel Bowen, Charles Briddell, Kenneth Smack, Keith Bailey, Lamont Lockwood, Robert Trower, Leon Duncan and Daniel Showell. 

“We’re having a special tribute to those who died while serving,” Purnell said, adding that with more research organizers hoped to have more information on local veterans in the future. “We’re asking families of those we’re honoring to come out and join in the celebration.”

Attendees might also notice an empty chair at the judge’s stand, as longtime volunteer Tony Bowen recently passed away. 

“He would always come out,” Purnell said.

Purnell said the Old Fashioned Memorial Day Parade, which is meant to remind people of the old Decoration Day parades that Berlin was known for in the first half of the 20th century, is a longstanding tradition in Berlin. He said that’s why the event draws such a crowd.

“They come because it’s tradition,” Purnell said. “It’s time honored. People older than myself, they’re happy this event has been reincarnated.”

The parade begins at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 27. Attendees can park on the grass lot across from Henry Park.

This story appears in the May 23, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.