Bridge construction in Palm has led to the cancelation of the Upper Perkiomen Memorial Day Parade this year, though remembrance services will still be held.
Each year Memorial Day services are jointly planned by American Legion Post 184 in Palm, the Red Hill VFW #5954 and the Marine Corps League Detachment 568, with each organization taking leadership of the events on a yearly rotation. The location of Memorial Day services also rotates throughout the Upper Perkiomen Valley, with a different church and cemetery selected each year.
This year, services are slated to be held at the Palm-Schwenkfelder Church, 833 Gravel Pike, and are being organized by the VFW. However, because of bridge construction on Route 29, members of the Joint Veterans Council of Upper Perkiomen, which comprises the three veterans' organizations, decided to cancel the parade.
"I'm a little disappointed" that the parade was canceled this year, said Rick Bently, VFW #5954 commander, but the logistics of re-routing traffic on Route 29 – especially with the detour on Zeigler Road – were just too challenging, he said.
Carey Anderson, commander of American Legion Post 184 in Palm, noted, "Just the parade portion from Knoll's to the Palm-Schwenkfelder Church is canceled because of work on 29. We'll still have our ceremony and our salute to the dead, our band selections and speech, and all that, at the Palm-Schwenkfelder Church at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day. We will also continue to have the ceremony at the Red Hill Veterans' Memorial at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day."
However, community members have voiced their disappointment with the parade cancelation and have questioned why another church wasn't selected this year instead. During the April Pennsburg Borough Council meeting, council member Diane Stevens said it would have been "logical" for the churches to switch years and carry on the parade tradition.
That sentiment was also shared by Lucy Kerns. "Many people have asked the same question; I have asked it myself," she said. "I don't know why they didn't choose a new cemetery. Many other places would have hosted [the celebration] this year."
Anderson said that switching locations for the ceremony wasn't an option this year because those planning the event "ran out of time" to make alternative arrangements.
"These things take a long time to set up," Anderson said, adding that even though the bridge on Route 29 is now open, there is not enough time to apply for the proper permits to hold the parade. "When decision time came, the road was blocked," he said.
Pennsburg Borough Council President Kris Kirkwood at the April council meeting called the news "disturbing," saying that he is concerned that not having a parade this year could "start a trend of people getting lazy" in future years.
However, Bently and Anderson emphasized that the parade will be held again starting next year and stressed that the memorial ceremonies honoring veterans have not been canceled and will proceed as planned.