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Sunny skies bring out guests of all ages for annual Florence Memorial Day Parade and Program

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Monday’s sunny skies and warm weather brought the young and the young-at-heart to Florence for the City’s annual Memorial Day Parade and Program to honor America’s veterans.

The color guard led the procession down Ewing Boulevard Monday for the annual City of Florence Memorial Day Parade and Program (photos by Mark Hansel).

Hundreds of residents and visitors lined the parade route from Boone County High School on KY 18 to the Florence Government Center on Ewing Boulevard to see floats, bands and vehicles of every shape and size.

Florence Mayor Diane Whalen occupied her traditional spot on the parade route in a golf cart, just behind the color guard at the head of the procession.

“It’s a beautiful day for a parade and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we may continue to celebrate our freedom,” Whalen said. “Thank you to all who joined us today in Florence.”

Children scurried into the streets to gather candy and other treats tossed by participants in what has become a parade tradition.

Others, including World War II veteran Ed Stupak, set up a chair in a shady spot with friends to enjoy the festivities.

Click here to see a short video of Monday’s parade and program.

Stupak, who served in France and Germany from the invasion on through to the end of the war, said it was great to see the city recognizing America’s veterans.

Magnolia Springs residents (l to r) Fred Tschop, Marge Connolly and Ed Stupak were accompanied by senior center caregiver Kathy Tracy at the parade. Tschop and Stupak served in WW II and Connolly’s husband and two sons also served in the military.

“I’ve seen quite a few community parades in my time, but this probably had more participation, more enthusiasm, than any of the others,” Stupak, said.

Stupak, 93, was enjoying the parade with fellow World War II veteran Fred Tschop, 95, who was at Pearl Harbor and Marge Connolly, 89, whose husband and two sons served for 30 years in the military as pilots.

All are residents at the Magnolia Springs Senior Living Community in Florence.

Brad and Jennifer Couch of Hebron were enjoying their first Florence Memorial Day parade with their daughter, Ava, and family friend Echo Parker.

Ava and Echo, both 9 years old, participated in the parade as members of Brownie Troop 5142.

Brad Couch said it’s great that the City does this every year to honor veterans and he appreciates the efforts that have been made to accommodate guests.

“The landscaping they have done with the trees really help keep everybody cool and they are all along the parade route,” Couch said. “It’s really nice.”

The Couch family (l to r) Jennifer, Brad and Eva, enjoyed the parade with family friend Echo Parker.

At the conclusion of the parade, guests gathered at the Boone County Veterans Memorial on the Florence Government Center campus for a program that recognized veteran from all branches of the military.

The program included the posting of the colors, accompanied by music from the Florence Community Band and Chorus, and vocal performances from Melissa Singer-Reed, including “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”

Chaplain Tim Ellis of the United States Marine Riders association delivered the invocation and Whalen emceed the festivities and introduced the day’s speaker, Chief Warrant Officer Michael McGriff (ret.).

McGriff, a U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine veteran, said he was not comfortable with public speaking, but was given a mission and he would carry it out.

Memorial Day in the United States was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Florence Vice Mayor Dr. Julie Metzger Aubuchon enjoyed the program with “her favorite veteran,” her father, Dr. Ferd Metzger, who served in Korea.

McGriff said it’s probably a practice “that’s lost in antiquity somewhere,” when the first family member laid flowers on the grave of a soldier that had fallen in combat.

“This is a practice of honoring our fallen that has been around forever and I practiced worldwide,” McGriff said. “But the thoughts of that first person that laid flowers on a grave, are no different of the families that laid those wreaths and flowers today. They think loss, and sacrifice and all the tomorrows that will never be, and here we are enjoying the tomorrows because of what they have done for us.”

Florence Vice Mayor Dr. Julie Metzger Aubuchon was enjoying the program with ‘her favorite veteran,” her father Dr. Ferd Metzger, who served in the U.S Navy in Korea.

“This is a big deal for our city and it’s a wonderful tribute for those who have served. I think it also showcases our memorial that a lot of people forget is here on our campus. It’s great time for us to recognize the service members who are here in attendance with a small token of appreciation.”

The program concluded with a 21 gun salute from the Florence Police Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps,” to remember the fallen.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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