SPARTA, NJ – While many towns across the state canceled their Memorial Day celebrations, rain could not stop Spartans from marching. The crowds were a bit smaller but people lined the route with good size crowds in the White Deer Plaza and up Mohawk Avenue.
Daisy, Brownie and Girl Scouts, Cubs and Boy Scouts all marched. Baseball and softball teams marched. Sparta Ambulance Squad members, Sparta Fire Department, 33rd Regiment and Sparta Elks marched. Dance Dimensions dancers and Giant Gymnasts marched. Members of Sparta Township Council marched.
Lake Mohawk Country Club trustees and Sparta Women’s Club drove the route.
The Ski Hawks rode in a boat along the parade route, undaunted by the rain. They would be wet soon enough with their first show scheduled for after the parade.
After the parade many of the people stayed for the Memorial Day ceremony, moved to the Nicholson Pavilion. VFW Commander Pete Litchfield was the master of ceremonies. Chaplain Marty Schweighart began with an invocation.
Lt. Col. John Masternak spoke to the gathering about honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom. The Product Manager Small Caliber Ammunition at Picatinny Arsenal spoke with emotion about a soldier who had recently been killed in Afghanistan on what was supposed to be one last mission before retiring. The soldier lost his life in April during a joint Afghan operation.
The Grand Marshall of the parade this year was James Flemming. Flemming served in Korea and has lived in Sparta “since the 70’s.”
The group moved down Main Street to the VFW barbecue. They had set up large tents on the front lawn to accommodate the crowd. It was a preview of the summer barbecues when they invite the community on Friday nights for dinner.