GRAFTON—The 150th Annual Memorial Day Parade commenced in Grafton on Monday, with the bell of the International Mother’s Day Shrine chiming 150 times to honor the longest, continuous Memorial Day Celebration in the United States.
After the bell ringing the 249th Army National Guard Band, under the command of CW4 Thomas Goff performed the National Anthem as member of Taylor County Honor Guard raised the American Flag to fly at half-staff in honor of those who have served for the nation.
In addition, the West Virginia Batman gave a brief, motivational speech to children and adults alike, regarding the four ways to recognize and honor the fallen, not only on Memorial Day, but everyday.
“Always do the right thing, never be a bully, help other people and never give up. Those are the best ways to honor those who fought for our freedom,” expressed Batman.
With hundreds of spectators lining the streets from Luzadder Street to the Grafton National Cemetery on Walnut Street, the parade took off down Main Street at approximately 10:00 a.m., led my Grafton City Police Chief Robert Beltner, and Sheriff Terry Austin.
The parade lasted for nearly two and a half hours and featured many local businesses, athletic teams, schools, baton twirlers, area first responders, and bands, including special appearances by the Noble High School True Blue Band, from Oklahoma and Batman along with the bat mobile.
For the first time in its 150 years, the Grafton Fire Department utilized their ladder truck to fly an American Flag high above the parade route on Beech Street.
“It was an honor to be able to utilize our ladder truck in such a manner, and really added another level of patriotism to the parade to come off the bridge and see the flag,” commented Grafton Fire Chief Dave Crimm.
In addition, the Mountain Statesman also added a first this year, by live streaming the parade to their Facebook page.
The video, which has been shared nearly 200 times, has been watched all around the United States, with viewers checking in from Florida, Texas, Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Arizona, California, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“Blessed to have grown up in a town who celebrates Memorial Day like no other,” exclaimed Amanda Kleeb, a viewer living in Texas.
The Mountain Statesman would like to extend a special thank you to Joe Hildreth for recording the broadcast and Mary and Owen Philips of Somethin’ Country for allowing him to use their balcony.
Local business owner Dave Cantu also recorded the parade and posted it to YouTube.com for those who were unable to attend to still be able to view the parade.
Parade floats were judged in four different categories, as they neared the end of the parade. The winners in the organizational category were, first-place, Grafton’s Women’s Club, second-place, GHS class of 87 and third-place, Tucker County Veterans Association. In the commercial category, Grafton City Hospital took first-place and Studio C took second, while Arch Coal won third place. Under religious floats, Beulah Baptist Church won first-place, St. Augustine Catholic Church won second-place and, Seventh Day Adventist came in third.
The last category was educational, which named the Taylor County Technical Center as the first-place winner, Anna Jarvis Pre-K for second-place, and Little Feet Preschool was named the third-place winner.
The baton teams were also judged as they performed throughout the entire parade route. Winners for this competition are the Barbour County Strutters in third-place, the Marion County Rockettes Baton Corp, in second-place and Stockert Youth Drill Team in first.
“Thank you to city manager, Kevin Stead, the Memorial Day Committee and everyone else that was involved in the weekend’s festivities. I think it is the best parade I have watched, great crowd and participation,” shared Grafton local and Vice Principal of Grafton High School, Lori Shumaker.