CONYNGHAM — Crowds decked out in red, white, and blue line the streets of Conyngham, waiting for the first steps of the parade to pass by. There’s a sense of excitement and pride at this Memorial Day parade in the community near Hazleton.
“It makes you feel good that people care.”
Eighty-six-year-old Joe Mehalick is a World War II veteran, one of only a handful still living in the Conyngham Valley.
“We’re getting older for one thing, and we just hope that they appreciate and can do better than what’s happening now,” said Joe Mehalick, of Hazle Township.
Those who come to the parade do care. Wilma Stein’s late husband served in the navy. She says she still keeps in touch with his fellow sailors.
“Now we have reunions every year. We’re on our 29th reunion,” said Wilma Stein, of Sugarloaf Township.
The Conyngham Memorial Day parade is a reunion in itself. Veterans from the borough’s VFW post, boy scout troops, and bands march together, pray together, and salute together, teaching the younger generations why Memorial Day is so important.
“Because we honor the soldiers that gave us freedom.”
And giving something for the older generations to hold on to.
“Memorial Day is a great day for me. It’s, I like it better than Christmas,” said Stein.
“I remember years ago, we didn’t get too many people at the parades, and Main Street was almost empty. Now it’s getting better and better every year,” said Mehalick.