Lawrence Memorial Day parade canceled

Lawrence Township’s first post-COVID 19 Memorial Day parade’s participants and spectators had to take a rain check, after township officials called off the parade because of poor weather on May 29.

The parade, which township officials hoped would restore a sense of normalcy, was slated to kick off at 10 a.m. from the Lawrence High School parking lot. It would have followed its traditional route on Princeton Pike to Darrah Lane, Birchwood Knoll and onto Oaklyn Terrace and into Veterans Park for a short ceremony.

However, the rain did not stop Mayor James Kownacki and Township Council members Christopher Bobbitt, Cathleen Lewis, Michael Powers – accompanied by American Legion Post 414 Commander Charles Brothers – from placing remembrance wreaths at the memorials at Veterans Park and the Lawrence Township Municipal Building.

Holding the parade was important for the morale of the Lawrence community, Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said. It was to have been a chance to reclaim and do things that make Lawrence a special community, he said.

The Lawrence Township Patriotic Committee, which organized the parade with the Lawrence Township Recreation Department, said in a statement that it was looking forward to honoring the servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives “so that we may live in a country where freedom can never be forgotten.”

Sam Alphin, a Lawrence resident and military veteran and former commander of American Legion Post 414, was slated to be the parade grand marshal. He was going to deliver remarks at the ceremony after the parade.

Alphin, who graduated from Lawrence High School in 1969, served in the New Jersey Army National Guard from 1970 to 1976. He attended the New Jersey National Guard Military Academy in Sea Girt, and became a training NCO at the academy.

Alphin joined the U.S. Army Reserve, serving from 1979 to 1981, and was a drill sergeant.

He joined the American Legion Post 1000 in 1998, and transferred to American Legion Post 414 in 2003. He held several positions at American Legion Post 414, including a five-year stint as its commander.

The American Legion, which was created by Congress in 1919, is open to all military veterans. American Legion Post 414 is located on Berwyn Place in Lawrence.