BEECH CREEK – Bitner-Bechdel American Legion Post 623 in Beech Creek will hold its annual Memorial Day Parade Monday morning.
According to Legion member Bill Bechdel, “The parade route will run in reverse this year, beginning at the Baptist Cemetery near Liberty Baptist Church in Blanchard and ending at the American Legion grounds on Wynn Avenue in Beech Creek.”
Parade participants are invited and must line up at 9 a.m. in the Blanchard baseball diamonds area behind Griffin’s Restaurant on Ridge Crest Drive. The Beech Creek fire siren will signal the start of the parade at 10 a.m.
The honor and color guard, expected to be coordinated by Beech Creek native and PA Army National Guard Brian Coakley, will lead the parade. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Coakley along with his fellow guardsmen and soldiers will fire the 21-gun salute at the cemeteries, at the Beech Creek Veterans Memorial Bridge and at the Legion Flagpole. Wreaths will be laid at each of the cemeteries and a floating wreath will be laid on the water at the bridge in remembrance of all military veterans who have died serving in each branch of the armed forces.
Legion Commander Joe Hills began his military career with the Airborne Army by serving two tours in Germany and then served 18 years in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict. Hills has set a schedule for cemetery services during the morning, with some being held before the parade begins while others will be held during the parade route and after the parade has ended.
The first ceremony will take place at Hays-Fearon-Bossert Cemetery beginning at 9:15 a.m., followed by Clark Cemetery at approximately 9:30 a.m. From there, the Commandant, American Legion dignitaries, and honor guard will proceed to Point The parade will depart from the Baptist Cemetery for the ceremony at approximately 9:50 a.m. Once this ceremony is over and the fire siren has sounded, parade participants will begin their march towards Beech Creek stopping at the cemetery of the Church of the Christ and at the Veterans Memorial Bridge before making their way to the grounds of the American Legion.
All traffic will be stopped as the parade marches down Route 150 and Main Street through Beech Creek. There is no detour route available, so there could be a delay of 30-45 minutes or more until the last parade participants turn onto Wynn Avenue.
Once all attendees have arrived at the Legion grounds, the Memorial Ceremony at the Flagpoles and Community Service Monument will take place. The Wall of Honor features the names of community leaders, area veterans and first responders.
In addition to Monday’s parade, there will be a home decorating contest sponsored by the American Legion and at the Friendship Community Center on Sunday evening beginning at 6 p.m., former Beech Creek Mayor Dave Orr will present an informative lecture on the history of the Beech Creek Veterans Memorial Bridge. Orr was instrumental in working with former State Rep. Mike Hanna to have this bridge named after all local veterans.
The Home Decorating Contest is open to residents of Liberty Township and Beech Creek Township as well as the Town of Blanchard and Beech Creek Borough who are encouraged to enter their homes in the Home Decorating Contest showing your American pride and spirit patriotic.
“You must first enter your home by going to the American Legion or Beech Creek Borough office or calling me at 570-660-2568 before noon Saturday, May 28, to provide your name, address and your phone number. The civic address is needed for committee members to “drive through” your home to judge entries so we can choose the best decorated homes in the area. » said Bechdel, a member of the contest committee.
“Decorations can be anything from flowers, banners, balloons or bows, whatever you want to use, the more colorful the better,” says Bechdel. “And the most important decoration I can think of would be for everyone to wear the American flag, whether you’re in the pageant or not.”
Contest winners will be announced Monday afternoon and everyone will be notified by phone.
Bechdel, himself an Army veteran, would like to see residents continue with their patriotic decorations and add them throughout the summer months and – depending on the number of entries and interest in the Memorial Day – there may be another House Decorating Contest for the 4th of July holiday.
The American Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Commander Hills, Bechdel and others involved with the local Legion Council would like to invite veterans who may not already be members of the club to do so.
A service member is anyone who has been or is currently in the military. Other local club membership opportunities are with the American Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the Legion, or becoming a social member of the facility.
A membership drive is planned for later this summer, but for those who may be interested in joining the club now, all you have to do is see a Legion representative for a membership application to be considered.