Memorial Day ceremonies in Cranbury are ready to honor fallen soldiers in a different way

Memorial Park, located on South Main Street in Cranbury, honors Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans.ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF
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Memorial Park, located on South Main Street in Cranbury, honors Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans.ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

The ceremony will be slightly different from previous years when Cranbury Township honors those who have fallen in service of America’s armed forces during Memorial Day in 2020.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, the annual Memorial Day parade taking pace on May 25 won’t have families, residents and children gathered together on the sidewalks and streets in Cranbury.

However, instead an adapted parade is set to take place consisting of Cranbury Police, the Volunteer Fire Company and Public Works vehicles who will make their way around Cranbury, so people can honor Memorial Day in front of their homes, according to Mayor Matt Scott.

The ceremony in Cranbury is sponsored by the Cranbury Lions Club. The organization coordinates with the township, school district and other local organizations as they prepare for Memorial Day each year.

In 2020, outside of the adapted parade the ceremony honors will be conducted virtually.

“The coronavirus put a stop to everything. We came up with a couple of things, one is we put together a poster contest for the children from K-5 and for the children in middle school a one-page essay contest on what Memorial Day means to them,” said John Ryan, president of the Cranbury Lions Club. “Winners of the contests will be given prizes. To support the restaurants, the prizes will be checks with a message that says please use at Teddy’s Restaurant or Cranbury Pizza.”

He added the first place will be $50 in cash, second place a $25 check to Teddy’s Restaurant, a third place check for $25 to Cranbury Pizza and honorable mention award $5 checks to Gil and Bert’s Ice Cream shop.

“We also have the Boy Scouts taping ‘Taps’ that will be on online at the Lions Club and township website. Mayor Matt Scott’s speech will be attached to the Boy Scouts ‘Taps,’ ” Ryan said.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, the Lions Club was worried about being able to organize a ceremony for Memorial Day in lieu of social distancing and the parade being canceled due to the virus prior to the latest developments. Lions Club leadership and members in discussions with officials decided that there had to be something taking place to honor the fallen, according to Ryan.

“John Ryan, president of the Cranbury Lions, called me just after the club had met and agreed the Memorial Day Parade would need to be cancelled. He and I immediately began to brainstorm other possible appropriate ways to acknowledge the day and our veterans. I wanted to encourage him and the Lions to think of other options to commemorate the day within our COVID confines,” said Township Committeewoman Evelyn Spann. “I am appreciative of the hard work and positive spirit of the Cranbury Lions and very impressed with the effort and plans they have collaboratively organized with the township, school and scouts.”

Spann added that she is looking forward to Memorial Day more than ever.

“As the daughter of a retired veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars I have a sense of personal pride seeing our military honored for their service and sacrifice. But I also get a reinvigorated sense of patriotism from Memorial Day and the parade,” she said. “It is a reminder of our freedom and the personal sacrifice it took to achieved that freedom. Every day when I hang the American flag on my porch, I do so with gratitude and pride.”

In past years the Memorial Day Parade has included a color guard, emergency services vehicles and personnel, Cranbury Scouts, Cranbury Woman’s Club and the Cranbury Twirlers.

“In 2019 it cost us about $2,000. We had the bands and other groups a part of the parade. We actually put together a flier and delivered it to everyone’s door,” Ryan said. “We were not sure if we would have the parade or not last year. After the fliers the town contributed more than $2,000 for the parade to go on.”

The post-parade ceremony had previously to 2020 been held at Memorial Park, which is next the Cranbury Firehouse.

“We want the children to understand what the day is all about. For the children more than everyone else need to understand what the importance of the day is and what we need to remember,” Ryan said. “It is a day of remembrance. It is not a celebration; it is a day you remember the fallen. When can lose sight of what men and women have given up.”

For more information about the Memorial Day ceremony, visit www.cranburylions.org and www.cranburytownship.org.