The Annville Memorial Day Parade took place Saturday morning with thousands lining the streets to participate in the 29th annual edition of this local tradition.
The parade was given its current life by V. Carl and Mary Jane Gacono in the early 1990’s, and has gone on to become one of Annville’s biggest annual community events.
The Gaconos set out to revitalize the parade to show their appreciation to the military and America’s freedom. Stymied at first, Gacono was able to realize his dream of revitalizing the parade when he became Commander of the American Legion in Annville.
Daughter Becky Gacono described in an email shared with LebTown how a parade committee of four—her dad, her mom, herself, and a treasurer, Al—devoted countless volunteer hours to organizing the event. “Each year it grew and so did the number of people up and down the parade route watching the parade,” she said. “Remembering those that never came home.”
Becky noted that her parents didn’t want the recognition and at times resisted it. But Becky, who now leads the still-small committee of six that organizes the event, believes deeply in the importance of Memorial Day and recognizing our nation’s heroes—including her father.
It’s the type of effort we should all hope for our own parents when they age, something the Gaconos know a bit about. The love story of Carl and Mary Jane was featured on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir for Carl’s caring of his wife as she battled dementia. (Becky also posts about the fight on her Facebook page, Our Journey Through Our Mom’s Dementia.) Mary Jane passed away earlier this year.
The roughly two-hour parade started off by making its way down Main Street with police and fire vehicles leading the way.
The event averages a yearly attendance of around 5,000 people; exceeding the population of Annville itself.
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State Representatives Frank Ryan and Russ Diamond took part in this year’s parade.
Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz also took part in the festivities.
Throughout the course of the parade there was plenty of candy, patriotism, and even some musical performances.
Marching bands are a perennial fixture of the Annville Memorial Day Parade. The Annville-Cleona High School Marching Band and Washington DC’s Ballou High School Majestic Knights Marching Bands were two that participated this year.
There’s always plenty to see as far as vintage automobiles and military equipment are concerned.
A stilt-walking Uncle Sam, a martian, and The Noid? You never know what you’ll see at the Annville Memorial Day Parade.
Special thanks to co-founders Carl Gacono and the late Mary Jane Gacono for their many years of organizing this event for the community.