Two parades put focus on the holiday

Princeton parade is Saturday morning; West Windsor’s on Monday.

By: David Campbell
   Two Memorial Day parades this weekend will add tributes to the heroes of Sept. 11 and also celebrate hometown pride.
   The Spirit of Princeton Committee is sponsoring Princeton’s annual parade, which will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday on Princeton Avenue and proceed west on Nassau Street to Princeton Borough Hall, where a ceremony will be held around 11:15 a.m. in the flag court of the Battlefield Monument Park.
   The West Windsor Memorial Day Parade, which will be held Monday, is scheduled to embark from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South at 11 a.m. and travel down Clarksville Road to the Municipal Building for a noon wreath-placing ceremony at the All Wars Memorial, said Township Committeewoman Rae Roeder, who organizes and serves as grand marshal for the annual event.
   According to Frank Tylus, organizer of the Spirit of Princeton parade, this year’s tribute to the nation’s veterans will pay special honor to the heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
   The MacGregor Pipe Band will escort representatives from New Jersey Task Force One, which will be joined by members and auxiliaries of the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad. An original song by West Windsor resident Debbie Marini, "God’s Phone Call," will be performed in dedication to "everyone who died on that infamous day," Mr. Tylus said.
   All veterans as well as friends and relatives of those who perished on Sept. 11 are welcome to join the march or attend the following ceremony, according to parade organizers.
   The Spirit of Princeton Committee has overseen funding and organization of Princeton’s Memorial Day Parade since 1998. The first parade was held in 1919, and the committee took it over after a shortage of funding resulted in the parade being canceled in 1996 and 1997, Mr. Tylus said.
   Under the leadership of committee chairman Ray Wadsworth, an endowment of more than $200,000 for future Memorial Day parades and Fourth of July fireworks was raised through donations to the 20th Century Brick Walk at Tiger Park and sales of a book related to the fund-raising project.
   Mr. Tylus said he expects around 1,000 marchers in the parade Saturday.
   According to tradition, Princeton Borough police will lead the parade. The officers will be followed by the Princeton University ROTC, Willow Grove Naval Center, Vietnam Veterans of America, Princeton Township police, Trenton Central High School Junior ROTC and Princeton Troop C of the State Police.
   Rear Admiral H. Kirk Unruh, director of development relations at Princeton University, will serve as grand marshal and keynote speaker at the ceremony following the parade. Admiral Unruh is deputy commander of the naval surface force in Norfolk, Va., and is commander of the Naval Reserves Readiness Command Midwest, based in the Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago.
   Prayers at the wreath-placing ceremony at the Battlefield Monument will be offered by the Rev. Samuel Yun, pastor of Princeton Korean Presbyterian Church.
   The parade will include a salute to all Korean War veterans and Korean-Americans residing in the Princeton area and southern New Jersey. A group of dancers and musicians will accompany a delegation from the Korean American Association of New Jersey. Daniel Paek, a Korean national, will sing the national anthems of Korea and the United States.
   Several musical groups also will appear in the parade, including the Colonial Musketeers Fife and Drum Corps of Hackettstown, the Burlington City High School Band, the Hightstown High School Marching Band and the Pemberton Township High School Marching Band.
   Marching groups in the Spirit of Princeton parade will include the Pettoranello Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Princeton American Legion Posts 76 and 218 and their ladies’ auxiliaries, Vietnam Veterans of America, Korean American Dancers, U.S. Korean War Veterans, Knights of Columbus, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, Mott’s Artillery Revolutionary War Reenactors, the Princeton Medical Center Auxiliary and members of the Princeton Recreation Department’s baseball and soccer leagues.
   The parade also will feature Prof. Bart Hoebel’s Calliope, the Lehman Pumper, the Sunshine Express and the Princeton Township Police Department’s "Jail on Wheels," as well as an array of antique autos.
   Ms. Roeder said people interested in participating in the West Windsor parade on Monday should gather at the high school beginning at 10:30 a.m. An honor guard from the West Windsor Police Department will be present for the wreath-placing ceremony at the All Wars Memorial.
   Veterans will lead the parade. They will be joined by Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and possibly a West Windsor-Plainsboro marching band, as well as area athletic teams, Ms. Roeder said.
   Following the memorial ceremony, which Ms. Roeder said will include speeches, singing "and an opportunity to remember those who made it possible for us to be here today," West Windsor volunteer firefighters will host a picnic with a hot-dog grill.
   "The best way to describe it is that it’s a Tom Sawyer parade," Ms. Roeder said. "If you want to be in the parade, you’ve got to be in the line at the high school by 10:30 a.m.
   "It’s a very hometown parade," she added. "It doesn’t come with a lot of glitter and sparkle, but it comes with a lot of love and respect."