Com­mit­tee over­sees Me­mo­rial Day pa­rade

Me­mo­rial Day: Or­ga­niz­ers ask­ing for do­na­tions to sup­port an­nual pa­rade, cer­e­mony

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Mike Jaquays Mike­jake1164@gmail.com @mike­jake1164 on Twit­ter

ONEIDA » For decades, spec­ta­tors have come from near and far to en­joy the city’s Me­mo­rial Day cer­e­mony and pa­rade, with many mak­ing their fam­ily week­end plans around that Fri­day evening event.

Mean­while, there is a lit­tle­known group of ded­i­cated in­di­vid­u­als des­per­ately try­ing to keep that end of May sa­lute to lost vet­er­ans go­ing. Or­ga­niz­ing — and pay­ing for — the pa­rade and cer­e­mony has fallen on the shoul­ders of the Oneida Me­mo­rial As­so­ci­a­tion, a 10-mem­ber, all-vol­un­teer group that is hop­ing to get a bit more recog­ni­tion for the chal­lenge of stag­ing the event.

“We are re­ally try­ing to get the word out about who we are,” said pres­i­dent Lee Man­war­ren. “Our as­so­ci­a­tion isn’t ex­posed enough, so peo­ple don’t re­al­ize ex­actly what we are do­ing.”

Man­war­ren said the group is at­tempt­ing to raise the funds nec­es­sary to con­tinue the Me­mo­rial Day ac­tiv­i­ties in Oneida. But, like many other groups try­ing to fundraise in these try­ing times, they are find­ing it tough to cover their en­tire bill when it comes to host­ing that pa­rade, famed as one of the largest in the area.

This year’s Me­mo­rial Day pa­rade and cer­e­mony is sched­uled for May 25 at 6:30 p.m. in down­town Oneida.

Since its hum­ble begin­nings sim­ply mark­ing and car­ing for vet­er­ans’ gravesites back in 1936, the Oneida Me­mo­rial As­so­ci­a­tion added the pa­rade to its an­nual of­fer­ings to the com­mu­nity in 1969. The pa­rade is filled with bands from all over the area, and that’s where much of the ex­pense lies.

“The ma­jor­ity of our costs is the bands,” Man­war­ren said. “It costs us$5,000-plus to have all of those bands in the pa­rade.”

“When­ever I tell peo­ple how much we pay the bands, they are re­ally sur­prised,” said com­mit­tee sec­re­tary Nancy Gin­ter. “But what’s a pa­rade with­out the bands?”

Last year’s pa­rade in­cluded five fire de­part­ments, two youth groups, five adult groups, and eight sep­a­rate bands, rang­ing in cost from $400 to $1,200.

The Oneida Me­mo­rial Com­mit­tee group is not funded by the city, although the city does sup­port them fi­nan­cially for some of the ex­penses, Man­war­ren said. Be­cause of the fund short­age, they’ve al­ready had to look into cut­ting their usual awards pre­sented to win­ners of their pa­rade judg­ing con­tests. They are not-for-profit, but not des­ig­nated a 501 (c) 3, so they can’t re­ceive do­na­tions from area cor­po­ra­tions, Man­war­ren lamented.

If they can’t raise ad­di­tional funds, cut­ting the bands will be the next re­sort, he said. And if that still doesn’t make ends meet, the pa­rade it­self might have to be dis­con­tin­ued.

have to be dis­con­tin­ued.

They have held fundrais­ers at the Re­cov­ery Room in Verona, and a gun safe raf­fle at the Cen­tral New York Sportsman Show in Oneida. They also have a let­ter-send­ing cam­paign to in­form res­i­dents of their ex­is­tence, and, hope­fully, to en­cour­age do­na­tions.

“Any­body send­ing in $3 or $5 can re­ally be a big help to us,” Man­war­ren said.

Com­mit­tee trea­surer Marty Mal­lory’s late hus­band Dick was a World War II vet­eran, so she wants to make sure the Me­mo­rial Day pa­rade and cer­e­mony con­tinue to honor his and fel­low vet­er­ans’ mem­o­ries for a long time to come.

“It’s re­ally a nice trib­ute to our vet­er­ans, and to let the peo­ple know that we re­ally care about them,” Mal­lory said. “We are hon­or­ing the peo­ple who have re­ally played an im­por­tant part in our lo­cal his­tory.”

“We are hon­or­ing our vets, and want to make sure to pass that along to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” added Gin­ter. “Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize just how much work goes into this … we have months and months of plan­ning be­fore this can go on.”

While many who come out ev­ery year to en­joy the cer­e­mony and pa­rade have likely never re­ally thought about the costs in­volved, the Oneida Me­mo­rial Com­mit­tee is hop­ing to get the word out now about the help they need to con­tinue the event -- a true hon­o­rar­ium for all of the lost vet­er­ans.

“We are just a group of vol­un­teers, try­ing to keep this go­ing,” Man­war­ren said. “I think for all of us we are just try­ing to honor the lo­cal ser­vice­men and women who made that sac­ri­fice to our coun­try. None of us would say Me­mo­rial Day is just the start of sum­mer — or even that it is a grand time to have a pa­rade. This is all about the vet­er­ans and their sac­ri­fice, and as soon as I hear ’Taps’ that re­ally hits home for me.”

To make a do­na­tion, send a check payable to the Oneida Me­mo­rial As­so­ci­a­tion to P.O. Box 93, Oneida, NY 13421. For more in­for­ma­tion, or to vol­un­teer to help or­ga­nize the pa­rade and cer­e­mony, find the Oneida Me­mo­rial As­so­ci­a­tion on Facebook.

To read more Your Neigh­bor sto­ries, visit: www.Onei­daDis­patch.

PHOTO SPE­CIAL TO THE DIS­PATCH BY MIKE JAQUAYS

The Oneida Me­mo­rial Com­mit­tee and guest vet­er­ans in­clud­ing, from left, Lee Man­war­ren, Jack DeChamps, Ken Stoker, Marie Stoker, Sun­shine Ham­mon, Er­win Smith, Rick Warham, Nancy Gin­ter, Marty Mal­lory and Marc Smith meet on March 26in the Oneida Cas­tle Vil­lage Hall.

LEAH MCDON­ALD — ONEIDA DAILY DIS­PATCH

The Oneida Me­mo­rial Day cer­e­mony and pa­rade on Fri­day, May 26, 2017.

LEAH MCDON­ALD — ONEIDA DAILY DIS­PATCH

The Oneida Me­mo­rial Day cer­e­mony and pa­rade on Fri­day, May 26, 2017.

LEAH MCDON­ALD — ONEIDA DAILY DIS­PATCH

The Oneida Me­mo­rial Day cer­e­mony and pa­rade on Fri­day, May 26, 2017.

PHOTO SPE­CIAL TO THE DIS­PATCH BY MIKE JAQUAYS

Lo­cal vet­er­ans, from left, Rick Warham, Jack DeChamps, Er­win Smith and Marc Smith, join the Oneida Me­mo­rial Com­mit­tee for their March 26meet­ing in the Oneida Cas­tle Vil­lage Hall.

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