The township's Little League players— whose own parade was rained out last month—swelled the ranks of the township's annual Memorial Day parade through Liberty Corner on Monday morning, where neighbors waved on the group of marchers.
But crowd was reminded of the real reason for the day's parade as the brief procession, which started at 9:30 a.m., reached the flag at the War Memorial at the other end of Church Street.
Township Mayor John Malay offered a reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers past and present in speaking to the group of residents, boy and girl scouts with their parents and a few veterans who lived through wars and armed conflicts from the mid-20th century.
Malay suggested the crowd later raise a glass to salute the nation's veterans as they disbursed after the parade to head to the picnics, barbecues and other summer activities traditionally enjoyed on Memorial Day.
Also addressing the crowd, Liberty Corner Fire Chief Peter Aprahamian noted that Memorial Day initially started in May 1858 as "Decoration Day," with a call to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers.
The Liberty Corner Fire Co. hosted this year's parade, which now is alternated on an annual basis with being held in downtown Basking Ridge. The parade stepped off from the firehouse on Church Street, where cool drinks and donut holes were available after the event was done.
"Whoever had to clean those firetrucks _ they did a great job," observed Brendan Nihill of Basking Ridge as the gleaming red trucks passed by during the parade. Nihill said he was going to cheer on his daughters, Kelsey and Karen, who were marching among the parade's many Girl Scout troops.
Another parent who had come to cheer on her son was Maria Serbico of Basking Ridge, who said she had ridden her bike to the event.
The crowd of residents from brought chairs, stood or perched on retainer walls along the parade route. A few hundred Little League players added to the group, which also included the Ridge High School Marching Band, civic organizations and members of many Daisy, Cub Scout, and Girl and Boy Scout groups.
Missy Staples of Liberty Corner, who said that she and her husband, Frank, had just walked down to Church Street, said that the couple had been attending the township's Memorial Day parades for close to 30 years.
"It's always nice to see the fire department, and all the kids," she said. "I love these parades."
Nevertheless, she said she would have liked to have seen a bigger crowd, even though most of the route was filled with people. "I wish there were a few more hands clapping," she said.
Former Liberty Corner Fire Chief Ken White, who was in charge of this year's parade, said he believed the parades _ with one each being held in each village for many years _ had been going on for at least 40 years.
Jim DeCoste of Basking Ridge, commander of the American Legion Post 114 in Basking Ridge, said he recalled riding in the parade with his bicycle many decades before, when he was 6 years old.
"It's not really a parade," DeCoste said of the event. "It's really a memorial march for the people who gave their lives for this country."