Large crowds lined Main Street for Memorial Day Parade

Controversial statement did not reduce enthusiasm for annual procession
By Dan Aznoff | Jun 07, 2019

Proposals by city staff to create a city-wide Mill Creek Days celebration during the month of May could have been partially responsible for the turnout for what Mayor Pam Pruitt warned could be the last city-sponsored Memorial Day parade.

The mayor’s bleak prediction was not a reflection of her own viewpoint or any action taken by the City Council. But, in her own words, a response to proposals discussed by the City Council in January.

The controversy stems from a line the mayor added to her monthly column in The Beacon that encouraged residents to attend the procession on May 27 because “This may be Mill Creek’s last Memorial Day Parade.”

Her dire forecast, she said, was based on a recommendation presented by city staff in January for a city-wide celebration that would have conflicted with the solemn display to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

 

The City Council ultimately postponed any action on the staff recommendation six months ago until the proposal could be fully explored by councilmembers.

“At this point, I see nothing but support from the community for the Memorial Day Parade,” said Councilmember John Steckler. “If that is true, I would continue to support the parade.”

Quiet, serious

The councilmember who was appointed to fill the vacancy created last year by the resignation of Sean Kelly voiced support for the parade when it was discussed in late January. His only concern was the demeanor of the event.

“This (Memorial Day) is not a reason to parade down Main Street. It is to honor those fallen soldiers in a quiet, serious manor,” he concluded. “The connection with business through Mill Creek Days could be the centerpiece of our year.”

Steckler is one of five members of the council who will be on the ballot seeking a new term in elections this fall. Long-time incumbents Mike Todd, Mark Bond and Vince Cavaleri have all filed to run for new four-year terms.

Todd declined to comment on the future of the parade, however Bond and Cavaleri voiced strong supporter for the annual tradition.

“As long as I sit on the council, I will promise that we will march down Main Street as a reminder of the selfless act of those who gave so much,” Cavaleri told The Beacon.

The councilmember said he reminded staff to “stay in their own lane” when it comes to traditions like the Memorial Day Parade. He went ion to say the parade is more than a tribute to those who served and sacrificed, it is also a celebration of the lives and families of the fallen.

Cavaleri added that the parade is a celebration the community can embrace and an example to the youth of the community to show how much we appreciate those who serve.

Councilmember Stephanie Vignal, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Jared Mead, was not on he council when the future of the parade was discussed in January, but feels strongly about its place on the annual list of city-sponsored events.

“I spoke to many people who told me how much they appreciate it,” said Vignal.

Bond was in full agreement with his colleagues.

“I enjoy the Memorial Day parade and will not support getting rid of it,” said Bond. “It is enjoyed my the citizens and I think that changing it would not be well received.”

“Our Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades were council-inspired, not the idea of one individual or city staff,” said Cavaleri.

He went on to say that he could not support the concept of Mill Creek Days until council had fully vetted the proposal.

The proposal for Mill Creek Days was part of a presentation to the council in January by Joni Kirk, the city’s Director of Communications and Marketing.

“Mill Creek Days,” Kirk told the council, “would be another opportunity to build community partnerships.”

Her proposal called for a celebration over two weeks, including individual days that featured local businesses as well as churches and service organizations. The annual celebration would conclude with a Day of Service that would provide an opportunity for residents to become involved with charities and organizations throughout Mill Creek.

Meredith Cook, coordinator in the Communications and Marketing office for the city, emphasized that a parade will remain part of the Memorial Day events, as directed by council.

She added that city staff would continue to stage Mill Creek Days as a citywide celebration during May. This year’s version was went on as planned from May 11-18 with support from civic organizations and local churches.

City staff, she said, plans to introduce a revised version of its proposal for Mill Creek Days to the City Council in 2020.

This year’s version of the Day of Hope was a three-hour series of efforts coordinated through a local church brought together hundreds of volunteers who worked together to complete a list of projects at local schools, parks and time with residents at nursing homes. The event last month was an all-volunteer program staged with help from Hope Creek Church without the level of support and coordination that Kirk outlined to the council in January.

The council has not set a timeline on a decision on the city’s future role in Mill Creek Days or the Day of Hope.

“Perhaps some day in the future,” Cavaleri told his colleagues on the council in January. “But not until we have proper planning and have event vetted by council.”

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