NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Memorial Day Parade gave new meaning to the usual “rain or shine” declaration this year. On Monday morning in New Providence it wasn’t sprinkling or misting: it was raining. And it kept on raining. But at 9:30 a.m., Springfield Avenue started to show signs of life. There were clusters of chairs being set up here and there, a tent suddenly appeared near the Presbyterian Church and was quickly filled by residents. People started arriving on foot and bicycle to line the street on both sides. By 10 a.m. there was a full-fledged crowd, all holding umbrellas in what had become a driving rain. Residents in boots and raincoats all turned their attention westward toward Central Avenue anticipating the first police cars. They heard the sirens that herald the start of the parade and after that the rain was forgotten. The first sign of summer had arrived.
The Opening Ceremonies began with The Star-Spangled Banner, sung by NPHS senior Lara Gavagan. She was followed by New Providence resident Major Christopher Lazas, who was deployed to Iraq from 2008-2009 where he served in Baghdad and is currently serving as the legal advisor to the commanding general of the NJ National Guard, spoke to the crowd, “Today is the day we remember the more than one million men and women who gave their lives to ensure that the light and freedom never dies.” Major Lazas reminded all those listening that “Although Memorial Day is the day our nation has set aside to honor these heroes, their spirit is with us every day. We can serve others and contribute to the causes they believe in and above all we can keep their stories alive.”
With that the parade began with Grand Marshall, Peggy Brodeur, followed by the gleaming line of Fire Trucks and EMS vehicles. Mayor Al Morgan was marching with his grandson and was followed by The Brownies, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and many other local organizations and businesses that decided to brave the rain and continue the long tradition of throwing candy to the younger children who lined the sidewalks. The only tradition missing this year was the 156 members of the NPHS Marching Band, who were in full dress and had begun marching toward the parade, when the rain on the instruments sent them back to the high school.
Earlier in the morning Mayor Morgan spoke at a service at Veterans Park, “Please remember our fallen heroes and their families today every day. They fought for our freedom and for our way of life. We are thankful and grateful for their sacrifices, their courage, and their bravery in service to our nation. God bless our fallen and those that continue the brave fight for our freedom. God bless our great Nation. And God bless all of us."
Mayor Morgan also thanked Detective Michael Hand and the New Providence PBA 132 for sponsoring the Hometown Hero Banner Program that is displayed throughout the downtown, “They have brought so much joy, pride, and patriotism to our community, and have made so many of our veterans and their families feel so happy and so appreciated. We thank all our Veterans and their families for their selfless service and sacrifice to our nation. We pray for our brave men and women who continue to fight for our freedom and protect our American way of life. With our deepest gratitude and thanks.”
After the parade, residents were encouraged to continue to the Veterans Memorial at the New Providence Library for a short concluding service. The New Providence American Legion Post 433 served hot dogs and refreshments as did the Decorso Community Center.