Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Waterloo's 2015 Memorial Day Parade, by Jack Kinsella

Uncle Jack did a write up of this year’s Memorial Day Parade in Waterloo, NY. While the next town over from Waterloo –Seneca Falls—is renowned for being the inspiration behind It’s A Wonderful Life’s town of Bedford Falls, Waterloo has an important distinction of its own—The Birthplace of Memorial Day.

Waterloo held the first formal, village wide, annual observance of a day dedicated to honoring the war dead. On May 5, 1866, the Village was decorated with flags at half mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black. Veterans, civic societies and residents marched to the three village cemeteries. 

One hundred years later, on May 26, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed a Presidential Proclamation recognizing Waterloo as the Birthplace of Memorial Day.

Aunt CB, Jill, Ann, Dennis

Nowadays, Waterloo’s Memorial Day Extravaganza is a three day event complete with musical groups, an antique car show, a 5k run, and a pizza eating contest, as well as the Parade itself.
Dad writes:

It has been over 50 years since I attended a Waterloo Memorial Day Parade and since I attended it this year, I thought I should write up details about it.  Jim is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and since they were marching in the parade this year, he and his two daughters decided to march along with them. He and Jill asked us if we wanted to join them as they drove to Waterloo, and, of course, we said yes.

 The parade formed at Clark and Williams, just a few steps from 16 Clark St (
editor—what a coincidence—16 Clark Street is the house Dad grew up in. Therefore, this is one of the few corners in Waterloo I can picture!). The parade route was to march over to Main St, then up Main past the four corners and end at Lafayette Park (right next to my old Waterloo High School).

 The first questions were, where to park the car and where to sit to watch the parade? CB’s niece, Ann Taylor Catherman, lives directly across from the old Waterloo High School and she told us we could park at her house.  So Jill dropped CB and me (with 3 chairs) off on Main St. right near where the parade was to end (in front of the Genung Funeral Home --
editor—we attended many funerals at Genungs, including the funeral where we kids broke away and opened the back building to get a look at the naked embalmed body of George ‘Bill’ Bailey. Embalmed since 1899, he was a sight to behold that I still clearly see with his long fingernails and skin the color of tea. Fortunately for Bill, Waterloo finally buried him in 1971).

 She then took Jim and the girls to the starting off place and then drove back up Main to Ann’s house and parked the car. She then walked back a block and joined us. Mission Accomplished!! So there we sat at the very end of the parade and had a beautiful view of the whole event.
When the parade was over, we got the car at Ann & Denny's and drove over to Harold's (Aunt CB’s brother).We then had lunch at an Italian restaurant on Main St (Used to be the Fire House) and then drove back to Rochester

Waterloo High School Band

Rochester Chapter of SAR--Jim and girls are marching somewhere in the crowd!


Pat Herdeg said...


Wonderful write up--thank you!! Love all of these pictures. It would be fun to make it to Waterloo another Memorial Day to take part in all of the fun.



Aunt CB/MOM said...

This was the first waterloo parade That I hd gone to in years! Usually we were in Canada opening the cottage on Memorial Day! It was grand! Took an hour, and had 2-3 bands as well as a pipeband! [ I always cry at hearing them!!] Yes, some cars threw candy and all the little kids grabed for it! [ Little Olivia was there , Annie's grandaughter] It was also a treat to see Harold and tell him all about that which he can no longer get to! He is doing as well as can be expected. It was a lovely day, sunny but cool and a treat to see Jim and his girls walking in the parade!

Sue Kinsella said...

Sounds like so much fun - wish I could have joined all of you there! Also sounds like they honored a LOT of veterans of many different wars.

Diana said...

Well in 2016 I'll be in Camillus with the WG alumni band for the Memorial Day parade. It will be the 50th anniversary of the band.

Nancy Wright said...

The original High School building that I went to from Kindergarden thru the 10th grade is right across the street from Geunungs and I remember going over there from school and seeing Bill Bailey. First time I had seen a "preserved" body like that and didn't quite know what to make of it. Still have that memory. Would have liked to have been there for the parade, as back when I was growing up it wasn't even a Holiday that was credited to Waterloo. Glad everyone had fun, in the parade and watching the parade, and getting together for dinner afterwards.

Pat Herdeg said...

Nancy, Yes!! Seeing the preserved and mummified body of Bill Bailey was a childhood memory never to be forgotten, especially when we were there because of a funeral. Made it even more eerie!