“Peace Through Strength” is the theme of the 149th Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade. The Tri-State tradition continues this coming Monday as the longest, continuous- running Memorial Day parade in the United States takes to the streets of downtown Ironton once again with a new way to take part in it.
Thirty to forty-thousand people from Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia are expected to line the streets of Ironton to watch many folks from the Huntington-Ashland-Ironton area come together to honor the memory of U.S. military men and women who lost their lives in the U.S. and abroad serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard.
This year, people who cannot attend the event in person can do so via their smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers—live and in real time beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, May 29. The parade was carried for a couple of decades on tape delay on cable television through the educational access channel in the Greenup, Boyd, and Lawrence County communities.
Dr. David Lucas, president of David Lucas Communication and Result Driven Marketing Solutions in Ironton said those who cannot attend the parade in person can watch the live parade webcast from anywhere in the world in real time via facebook.com/TheMemorialDayParade. Lucas—producer of the webcast—said the high-quality video of the parade will be archived at the same site, enabling those who participate in the parade to watch it after the fact and allowing those who cannot watch it in real time due to time conflicts to watch it later on demand.
Lucas said in this day and age of “great cultural change” in the U.S., it is “refreshing” to have a piece of Americana continuing right here in southern Ohio.
The Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade represents a historically-significant event every year on Memorial Day,” Lucas said. “For 149 years the Tri-State has gathered to commemorate and remember veterans of all wars—from all branches of service—and honor them for their sacrifice.
Lucas said people come from all across the Tri-State to sit and watch the three-hour pageant pass by them. This year, Lucas said he is especially honored to be able to live stream the parade in a way that has never been done before. Using social media outlets such as Facebook, YouTube, Periscope and Livestream, for the first time people can watch the parade live from their handheld devices, laptops, and iPads.
“People from all around the world can gather to enjoy the festivities—just like those lining the streets of Ironton on the day of the parade,” Lucas said.
Among the technology used for this year’s live webcast, Lucas will incorporate the use of state- of-the-art 4 K Digital Mevo cameras, built especially for live stream events. For audio, Lucas said his organization will use Sony microphone equipment.
“We guarantee that you have never seen the parade like this before,” Lucas said. “Immediately following the parade we will post the entire event for viewing for months and years of enjoyment by those who wish to watch the parade. Truly, this is an historical moment.”
Teaming up for their 19th year as the parade broadcast team are J.B. Miller and Dr. Terry L. Hapney, Jr. Miller and Hapney began serving the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day committee in 1998 as broadcast commentators, giving area residents the “play-by-play” and “color commentary” of the parade entries—including floats, bands, and dignitaries.
Miller, host of “Miller in the Morning” on Big Buck Country 101.5 (Kindred Communications) in Huntington and manager of the Huntington Habitat for Humanity ReStore, said it is “a thrill” and “an adrenaline rush” to describe something that means so much to the Tri-State area.
“I remember going to the parade as a child, walking as a scout and a band member, riding with media for which I worked, and then to have been asked to MC the parade broadcast for the past 19 years is beyond cool,” Miller said. “The best part of it all is giving out-of-towners a live feed. Times and technology have sure changed.”
Hapney, a professor in the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University and a news anchor for Mix 99.3, Fox Sportsmouth 1260, and 107.5 The Breeze (Hometown Broadcasting of Portsmouth), said the parade means a great deal to him.
“My late grandfather fought in five major battles in the Pacific during World War II in the U.S. Navy,” Hapney said. “I give of my time each year to ensure the broadcast is a success because of Papaw—and all of the millions of men and women who have given their lives serving our great country in the United States military so that we may have a wonderful way of life in our nation.”
Jason Toy of 93.7 The Dawg (Kindred Communications) and MRN Radio—a former Marshall University football player—will join Miller and Hapney, interviewing various parade dignitaries from the streets of downtown Ironton during the live parade webcast.
Lucas said several sponsors have joined in making the parade webcast possible. The Glockner Family of Auto Dealers, Central Hardware of Ironton, King’s Daughters Medical Center of Ashland, and The Freezette of Coal Grove have all joined as full sponsors of the parade broadcast this year, according to Lucas.