Parade coordinator puts all the pieces in place for Memorial Day event

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For Phyllis Johnson, organizing the local Memorial Day parade is a labor of love.
Johnson, the wife of Cranbury Mayor Glenn Johnson, coordinates a parade that is scheduled to step off May 28 beginning at 1 p.m. at Station Road and South Main Street. The route ends at Memorial Park, where there will be a post-parade ceremony.

The parade has been an annual community tradition for more than 50 years. Since 1957, the Cranbury Lions Club has been sponsoring and running the parade, said Johnson, a past club president.

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“It’s something our club wants to continue to do,” she said. “It’s kind of a tradition now with us. We’ve been doing it for so long, it’s just something we want to keep doing for the community.”

This marks Johnson’s fifth year as the parade coordinator, having volunteered to take over from a club member who had been in charge before her. In part, it is her way to support the town she moved to in 2000 and to honor the service of her family. She had three siblings, two brothers and a sister, who served in the military.

“It is a little town,” she said. “We know a lot of people now and we just love being here.”

Organizing a parade begins well before the event. Johnson said that around the end of March or in early April, she invites local organizations and area fire departments and rescue squads to participate. There will be baton twirlers, fire trucks, antique cars, among others taking part this year.

“It’s open to any group in town that wants to participate,” she said.

While the forecast for next week calls for rain on Memorial Day, May 28, the parade happens rain or shine.

Johnson recalled that two years ago, a major storm was forecast and she was getting calls about whether the parade would happen or not. Finally, on the day of the parade she let people know it would go on as scheduled as the weather system had either passed or was over, she said.

“That was the most nerve-wracking year,” she said, “because you don’t want to have people out if there’s thunder and lightning and 50 mph winds.”

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