MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Very few towns know how to throw a traditional Memorial Day celebration quite like Maplewood does. Over the years, it seems that many communities have scaled back the activities on this day of remembrance for the men and women who have died while serving in the armed forces of the United States. Maplewood, however, continues to uphold its tradition with a grand parade and respectful ceremonies.
The parade on Sunday began at Columbia High School, and proceeded on West Parker Avenue, then left on Maplewood Avenue through downtown, left on Baker Street past Maplewood Middle School and the Maplewood Public Library, and then left on Valley Road, ending at Town Hall.
The Columbia High School Cougar Marching Band kept the crowds lining the streets entertained with spirited renditions of traditional favorites. Local civic groups and schools participated with marchers, including Honor Guard and local veterans including John Dilly.
At Town Hall, there were speeches recognizing the importance of the day and of those who have served our nation. Parade organizer B. John Kaufman, the Commander of VFW Post 10120, acted as master of ceremonies.
Mayor Victor DeLuca offered a personal account of his journey from anti-war activist to civic leader with love and respect for those who served in the armed forces and have made the ultimate sacrifice. He noted that Maplewood, with its diverse and accepting community, “delivers the liberty that our nation promises.”
The Cougar Marching Band played a touching medley of the anthems of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines. Lori Mirabal sang “God Bless America” with the Maplewood Glee Club. The commemorate wreaths were placed on the Memorial while Willie Gartenlaub sang “Amazing Grace.”
Groups that participated in the parade included: Maplewood Committee for Servicemen and Women, Township Officials, 1978 Maplewood Arts Center, South Orange Elks (Lodge 1154), The Strollers, Maplewood Fourth of July Committee, Hilton Neighborhood Association, InterAct, South Mountain Peace Action, Community Coalition on Race, MapleWoodstock, Boy Scouts of America, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Daisies, Brownies, Maplewood Community Band, Hilton Neighborhood Association, Tuscan School, Clinton School, Kiwanis Club, South Mountain YMCA, Maplewood First Aid Squad and Maplewood Fire Department.