WEST GROVE >> The Avon Grove Memorial Day Parade could easily have been the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Several hundred local residents stopped by early and set up folding chairs. They dressed up their dogs and children in red-white-and-blue decorations, and as they awaited the arrival of the marchers, they sat around talking to their neighbors, catching up on local gossip.
To add to the charm, the weather was just cool enough that nobody was sweating, but warm enough that they didn’t have to wear coats.
It was all very colorful.
The parade on started early on Saturday morning — 9 a.m. The marchers, consisting of scouts, antique cars, the Avon Grove band and flag team, all followed by the fire trucks, started out at the high school and came down Prospect Avenue into town. A large portion of the audience was parents of the band and flag members, and they eagerly snapped photos as the kids came down the hill.
This was the 19th annual Memorial Day Parade in West Grove, and it was put together by barbershop owner John Ruffini and his committee. It was followed by a ceremony at Memorial Park — a piece of land dedicated to veterans that was created in 1993.
Johnb Ruffini’s father, Domenico Ruffini, closing in on his 90th birthday, was the honorary chairman of the parade and helped lay the wreath at the monument to local lost service individuals.
The keynote speaker this year was Douglas Forsythe, commandant of the Chester County Marine Corps League. Forsythe, from Chester Springs, is also the Downingtown Memorial Day Parade co-chair. He partnered with Domenoco in laying the wreath.
Forsythe described Memorial Day as the day to say “thanks” and “we remember” to people who had lost their lives in the service to the country.
“It’s not just about veterans, but those who lost their lives,” he said.
He praised the parents and other family members of those who had lost their loved ones, saying that there is really not word to identify parents whose sons and daughters died in war, but the best description is “Gold Star Parents.”
He said what everyone can do to support the memory of those heroes is to support programs that help veterans. “Fight for them and their care. Safeguard their families,” he said.
Local state legislators Sen. Andy Dinniman and Rep. John Lawrence were on hand as well.
Dinniman spoke briefly of stars. He said that when flags are folded, the stars cover the fabric. Inspired by stars, he said that in the sky there are many stars visible that have expired thousands of years ago, but they still light the earth. They are like the fallen service men and women who are lost, but they still light our lives.
Master of Ceremonies Retired Lt. Col. Hank Detering reiterated what he says every year that thankfully there has never been a problem with vandalism in Memorial Park. He did, however, praise air conditioning company owner Lou Rakus of West Grove, who, when an electrical problem arose at the park before the ceremony stepped in to repair it gratis.
Afterward, the entire community was invited to West Grove Presbyterian Church, which hosted a free lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and soda.