NORDONIA HILLS — For the first time, the Nordonia Hills Memorial Day parade had a committee planning it, but thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, that group has had to cancel it.
"It is with heartfelt regret that we are going to cancel the 2020 Memorial Day Parade and Ceremonies," said Clint Ulrich, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Northfield Post 6768 and a committee member, wrote in a letter sent out to the community Wednesday.
"With the recent pandemic that has plagued our nation and community, it is of upmost importance that we ensure the health and safety of our community. With the cancellation of school for the remainder of the school year, spring sports cancelled and other youth extracurricular activities cancelled, the majority of our parade would be missing."
Ulrich told the News Leader that the committee has talked about possibly doing something to observe Memorial Day later in the year, perhaps on Independence Day or Labor Day. Another option could be when the Remembering Our Fallen Memorial, which pays homage to military personnel who have lost their lives since Sept. 11, 2001, is scheduled to be at the post Sept. 24-27 — rescheduled from the originally planned stop in early June.
"That’s all up in the air," said Ulrich. "We’re trying to work around with what’s going on with the community. We have to focus on the whole social distancing thing and what the governor set forth. It takes some time to forecast these sort of things, especially when it comes to all the youth organizations that we work with and all the other organizations that we work with that are currently closed."
Ulrich said he believes the parade dates back as far as the 1960s.
"I don’t believe it’s ever been canceled," he said.
In the past, it had been planned by one person, with responsibility passed from one individual to another. It was never an exclusive VFW event, but was perceived as such because the various planners always seemed to have a connection with the post, said Ulrich. The approximately 10-member committee was formed a few weeks after last year’s parade, said Ulrich, because he wanted it to be more of a truly community-planned event. The group, he said, is made up of representatives of the VFW post, American Legion Post 801, the Nordonia Hills Lions Club, The Nordonia Hills Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts, The Girl Scouts, the school district and the Nordonia Hills Chamber of Commerce.
"I’ve been part of the parade for the last 10 years and this is our first year working with other organizations trying to spearhead this and try to get it taken care of and do it the right way," said Ulrich, adding "So it’s not one person. It’s a collected group of people making decisions."
Ulrich said the committee has met monthly, with frequent communication between meetings. This year, the committee was working with the Emergency Assistance Center to collect food donations at the parade, as well as for the first time arranging several locations along the route for people to catch shuttle bus rides to the Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery for the traditional post-parade ceremony.
"My main goal this year was to get the community more involved in what the purpose of Memorial Day was, or is," he said.
Ulrich said the committee was close to wrapping up its work.
"We were at the final steps," he said. "We had everything narrowed down to a lineup and everything. Who was going to be involved, trying to pull in different organizations and obviously waiting for the startup of all the spring sports so we could line up with them and that’s when everything started falling through."
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.