by Lauren Krupar
Cuyahoga Falls -- For more than 60 of the 75 years the Memorial Day parade has existed, members of American Legion Charles Faust Post #281 have marched in the parade.
The Cuyahoga Falls Memorial Day parade, celebrating its 75th year, begins at 9 a.m. May 28 at Portage Trail and Lillis Drive. Representatives of the post's more than 700 active and former service members are planning to participate.
Post Commander Mike McClain said the Legion was formed in France in 1918 immediately following the end of World War I as a way to protect returning veterans. An honor guard of the Legion, called the 40 and 8 for the freight cars used to ship 40 men or eight horses to the front lines during World War I, also was formed at that time.
McClain said the Charles Faust Post was formed in the early 1920s, when it took over and renovated an Ohio Edison freight depot located on Front Street. The Legion still occupies that location and uses the front yard of the facility as a staging area for the Falls Memorial Day parade.
In 1940, World War I veterans attended many parades in the area, including ones in Stow and Cuyahoga Falls. The veterans would dress in uniform with either a doughboy helmet or a Legion hat. A drum and bugle corps would lead the Legion members in the parade and entertain the crowd.
McClain said he began marching in the Cuyahoga Falls Memorial Day parade with the Legion when he was 12 or 13 years old.
"My dad used to take me to the parades every year," McClain said. "He carried the flag for the Legion and was very proud of his country."
In the early 1950s, the parade would begin at a staging area on Broad Boulevard and travel down Front Street through the area that is now Falls River Square, escorted by a Cuyahoga Falls police officer on motorcycle. The parade ended at Oakwood Cemetery, where it ends now.
After the ceremony, McClain said Legion members would march back to the post on Front Street.
Sometimes, a post member would drive a float in the parade. The most common float was a trailer and boxcar made to look like a 40 and eight train. While the boxcar has been missing from the parade the last several years, McClain said Legion members have restored it in time for a return at this year's parade.