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Nation’s oldest continuously running Memorial Day Parade to go on without a crowd

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IRONTON, OH (WOWK) — The Historic Ironton – Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade will go on for the 152nd year in a row, but it won’t go on as originally planned. Typically, tens of thousands of people line the streets along the parade route, but this Memorial Day will look empty without a crowd due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We live in a much different time,” said Nurse Debbie Fisher with the Lawrence County Health Department.

While the historic parade has celebrated Memorial Day for the last 151 years, the coronavirus is changing how it’s celebrated by taking away live spectators and taking on online streaming.

With parade attendance averaging upwards of 35,000 people, health officials don’t believe there’s a safe way to have an in-person attended celebration.

“It is very sad, but the main thing is safety,” said Lawrence County Health Commissioner Georgia Dillon. “It was a very difficult decision.”

The parade is downsizing by 90% in an effort to keep the veterans participating in the event safe.

“They all have to be in vehicles,” said Lou Pyles, organizer for the historic parade. “There will probably be 6 to 8 walkers that will carry our banners, the American flag, and one division flag.”

Pyles says even though the way people have grown to know the parade is different, it’s important the tradition continues in a way that keeps people safe.

“We are recognized as the longest, continuous Memorial Day Parade in the nation,” Pyles said. “If we do not do that, we lose that. We have been recognized by Congress.”

The parade, which often lasts several hours, is expected to run less than 30 minutes.

“This isn’t the kind of parade we want,” said Fisher. “We want our normal back. We want to go back to the lives we had this time last year. But, it’s a whole different time, there’s not a way to bring that back until we’re done with this virus.”

The Memorial Day Parade is set to take place on 10 a.m. Monday, May 25, 2020. You will be able to stream it on our website and on our Facebook page.

Health and parade officials say if people show up to the parade, they could be fined and even face jail time.

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