Arlington Heights Memorial Day Parade, public ceremony called off because of COVID-19 pandemic
A year after its centennial, the Arlington Heights Memorial Day Parade -- perhaps the largest such procession in the suburbs -- will not take place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Wednesday.
The annual march up and down village streets regularly attracts about 100 marching units of more than 3,000 people, with another 10,000 spectators watching along the route.
But with the peak of COVID-19 cases now projected to be mid-May and protections likely to stay in place at least that long, it was enough to lead parade organizers to their decision.
"We had great things in mind for this year, but it's not gonna happen," said Greg Padovani, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee of Arlington Heights. "It's a huge crowd and with that brings in these days at least the possibility of people getting infected. There's no way to have social distancing of people along the route or in the parade."
Cancellation of the Arlington Heights parade comes a day after officials in neighboring Rolling Meadows announced the same outcome for their May 23 parade and ceremony. Organizers of festivals and events throughout the suburbs have also started to scrap plans for some summer events, with Carol Stream already calling off its July 4 parade and fireworks.
Before making the official decision Wednesday morning in Arlington Heights, Padovani said he already was talking with parade participants from last year who indicated they likely wouldn't participate over concerns with COVID-19. Padovani also consulted with local schools who regularly send their bands to perform, but schools remain closed and their extracurricular activities have stopped.
However, he said, organizers will conduct and record the annual Memorial Day ceremony and broadcast it online and on the village's cable television channel beginning May 25.
"In truth, the most important event on Memorial Day is the ceremony that honors and remembers our fallen heroes," said Padovani, specifically mentioning the 58 young men from Arlington Heights who died in service to the nation from the Civil War to the war in Afghanistan.
As normal, their names would be read aloud during the ceremony, he added.