Springfield is making changes to the Memorial Day parade. Here’s what it means.

If you normally set up your blanket and lawn chair in front of the fire station downtown for the Memorial Day parade, you’ll need to find a new seat.

Changes are coming to the Springfield parade in order to keep main roads open to the hospital and attract more interest to the Memorial Day ceremony.

The new path will start near Veteran’s Bridge, make a left on North Fountain Ave., another left on McCreight Ave. and a final left turn on Plum Street with the end circling back to Veteran’s Park.

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The previous course started on West High Street and ended at Ferncliff Cemetery.

Parade Commander Jon Stewart said the change doesn’t make the route shorter — it still measures out to 1.5 miles — but the change does affect anyone who normally sits close to the fire station heading north on North Fountain Avenue.

Stewart said he has been meeting with police once a month to go over the details, which included input from several other city entities. Police also referenced safety concerns in parades in larger cities as reason for the route change.

Another big move is there won’t be a closing ceremony to honor veterans at Ferncliff following the parade.

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Instead, the ceremony will kick off an evening concert in Veteran’s (formerly Cliff) Park. The ceremony will start at 7 p.m. followed by a concert by Saving Pluto, a local band. There will also be three food trucks and the Kona Ice truck from Troy.

Stewart said the ceremony’s attendance following the parade has been historically low in the past, so he hopes combining it with other activities will bring in more people.

“(We’re doing it) to try to beef up (the number of) people going to the ceremony to our honor our veterans just because it’s been a really low turnout,” he said. “And it’s kind of a kickoff to the Summer Arts Festival.”

Stewart has many family members in the military, including his brother and his father, who was the Parade Commander prior to him. He hopes the ceremony will help people to remember those who have sacrificed for their country.

“I wasn’t brave enough to go in the military, so I take pride in my family members that were,” Stewart said. “They do a lot more than I think people know or give them credit for.”

The participation in the parade continues to grow, Stewart said. Last year, there were 287 vehicles and about 2,500 people who preregistered to be in the procession, but he said there are always last-minute entries the day of.

The 2018 Springfield Memorial Day parade will be May 28 at 9 a.m., and the Memorial Day ceremony and concert will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Veteran’s Park.

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