American Legion Post 20 members Read Rich, left, and Joe Donahue are filmed speaking at the memorial on the Brunswick Mall Wednesday for a pre-recorded program that will be broadcast on local television for Memorial Day 2020. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

The traditional Memorial Day parade and live observances have been canceled for a second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like last year, parade organizers will broadcast a virtual event on local cable stations. The event also will be available on the Brunswick-Topsham Memorial Day Committee’s website.

“Because of the restrictions for large group gatherings and the sheer number of people that turn out for the parade normally, we have had to do a virtual event the last year and again this year,” said Brunswick-Topsham Memorial Day Committee Chair Tasha Connors.

According to Maine’s COVID-19 prevention checklist, parades are not currently recommend due to concerns around crowd density.

“We encourage the citizens to view the virtual event and safely honor those that have been lost in service to our country,” Connors wrote in a statement. “We hope to see everyone again next year with a more traditional event.”

Last year, the virtual event consisted of a roughly 40-minute observance video that is now uploaded to the committee’s website.

According to Connors, this year will be similar, but the program will not include footage from past ceremonies and will instead include drone footage of the parade route and clips of community members speaking.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ceremony involved an observance in Topsham and then a 2 1/2-mile parade starting at the Topsham town hall and ending in Brunswick, with another concluding observance.

Past ceremonies would draw participation from community members, school organizations, veteran groups and others, according to Connors.

In Freeport, town officials have not planned for the traditional Memorial Day parade and ceremony due to COVID-19.  In Durham, the decision has not yet been made whether to host their traditional parade and 5k event, which was cancelled last year, again due to COVID.

Town Councilor David Watson, who served in the United States Air Force from 1966-70 and is the Commander of Brunswick’s American Legion Post, agreed that calling off the festivities this year was the right thing to do.

“It was to protect the citizens of the United States, to protect the citizens of our community,” Watson said. “For us to have a Memorial Day parade would have been going against that philosophy, that belief.”

During his time in the Air Force, Watson served as an electronic digital computer repairman in Syracuse, New York and was later retrained and sent to Germany.

“It’s a remembrance day for all of us in reality, the price that citizens are willing to pay to protect this country, our way of life and what we stand for,” Watson added. “I think people don’t understand what sacrifices were made.”

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