Worthington and American Legion Leasure-Blackston Post 239 leaders have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 parade.
This is the second straight year the huge gathering has been canceled because of COVID-19 and related protocols to slow spread of the disease.
Plans were announced May 6, after weeks of deliberations as to whether the traditional parade could be held safely.
Instead of the march down East Granville Road and down High Street to Walnut Grove Cemetery, this year’s plans have been downsized to include a short honor guard procession to Walnut Grove Cemetery where the traditional ceremony will occur to honor fallen veterans who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Only a limited number of program participants and spectators will be in attendance for the ceremony at Walnut Grove. The event is being planned according to COVID-19 safety protocols in a way that is safe for all in attendance.
Video of the procession and ceremony will be posted on the City of Worthington website and on social media. More information will be provided at worthington.org and alohio239.org when it is available.
Worthington Communications Director Anne Brown said local officials worked with partners at Columbus Public Health to evaluate COVID-19 conditions, required health protocols and safety guidance to determine best options for the parade and other Memorial Day remembrances.
Legion members had hoped the traditional parade could take place, said Glenn Luksik, commander of Post 239.
“We already have a grand marshal, we just need the city to let us know what we can do,” Luksik said.
“We’re going to have a parade no matter what, it may just have to be a shortened version like we did last year.”
The Legion has selected William “Bill” Mirick, a Korean War veteran and longtime Worthington resident, as this year’s grand marshal.
While the Legion hosts the parade, the city of Worthington is the only organization with the authority to close the streets and provide a police escort for the parade.
In 2020, the post’s 100th year, the Legion organized a miniature version of its typical Memorial Day Parade.
Members started at dawn on Memorial Day and held small ceremonies throughout the day. Typically, they lower the flag at their own post on Morning Street, as well as all the cemeteries in Worthington and surrounding areas to half staff to honor those who have been lost. They also do a 21-gun salute at each location.
After going to six different places to perform this ceremony, members traditionally walk in the annual Worthington Memorial Day Parade. The parade typically starts at 10 a.m. and ends around noon, spanning two miles down High Street from the Village Green to Walnut Grove Cemetery.
“Thousands of people attend. It is packed,” said Luksik of the typical parade. “People line the streets early to get a good spot and it is a wonderful community event to honor our fallen heroes.”
Last year’s miniature parade, marching from Morning Street along state 161 to the Village Green where a flag ceremony took place, did attract some observers.
For more information on the parade and other city events, visit worthington.org.
In a shared statement, leaders from the city and Legion stated: “While the American Legion Leasure-Blackston Post 239 and the City of Worthington had hoped the 2021
Memorial Day Parade would be back in its traditional form in 2021, the health and safety of parade spectators and participants is of the utmost importance. That is why the Worthington Memorial Day. Parade is being reimagined in a smaller format for 2021.
“We hope you take time with your families this Memorial Day to remember those who have lost their lives in service to our country. “