Annual Seymour V-J Day Parade canceled

Seymour will not celebrate V-J Day this year with a parade.

For 73 years, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 in Seymour has organized and carried out the parade to honor local veterans and recognize the United States’ victory over Japan during World War II.

It was thought to be the oldest consecutive V-J Day parade in the country.

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Post Commander Rick Roberts said VFW members recently met and voted to cancel the parade.

“It wasn’t one person’s decision,” he said. “It was a whole group of us.”

It’s not a decision they wanted to make but felt it was necessary because of lack of involvement, he said.

“We really didn’t want to, but we didn’t really have a choice about it,” he said.

He doesn’t believe people aren’t interested in supporting veterans, just that people have too many other activities going on.

Parades are becoming a thing of the past, he added.

“Nobody does them anymore,” he said.

The annual Seymour Oktoberfest Parade is an exception. It continues to be one of the largest parades in the region with more than 100 entries and draws large crowds of people downtown to watch. Roberts said that’s because people are already in Seymour for the festival.

Last year’s V-J Day parade only had around 30 entries. Roberts said it was a struggle to get marching bands and other units to participate.

“We couldn’t get enough people to work it, and we really couldn’t get enough people to be in the parade,” Roberts said Monday. “It just started to be more of a hassle.”

The number of people coming to watch the parade also has dwindled.

“The crowds just keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller every year,” he said. “When my kids were little, we would have to get here at 11 a.m. or 10:30 just to get a seat across from the library.”

In the years since, it’s gone downhill, he said.

But it’s not just the V-J Day parade that is hurting from poor attendance. The annual Memorial Day service in May organized by American Legion Post 89 in Seymour also attracts fewer people than it once did, Roberts said.

“There wasn’t 50 people out there for that service,” he said. “It’s sad. It’s really sad.”

After last year’s V-J Day Parade, grand marshal Russ Byrkett said people don’t express their patriotism like they used to.

“When the parade was started, that was about four generations ago,” he said. “When it started, people paraded back then.”

Byrkett, now 93, is a highly decorated veteran of the U.S. Marines, Air Force and Army, having served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War

“All parades all over the country are getting smaller or stopped,” he said. “There used to be other parades around here, but there’s not anymore. Even Fourth of July parades have almost stopped. There’s very few of them anymore.”

He had hoped the parade would continue in Seymour until at least all the World War II veterans had passed away.

Roberts doesn’t see the parade being revived.

“It’s basically just phased itself out,” he said. “People just really don’t want to do it anymore.”

Instead, the VFW will have a V-J Day service on Aug. 11 at the post, 311 S. Jackson Park Drive. A meal will be served from 1 to 3 p.m., followed by a guest speaker and the honor guard salute at 3:30 p.m. A band will perform at the post that night. The event will be open to the public.

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V-J Day Service

Where: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925, 311 S. Jackson Park Dr.

When: Aug. 11. A meal will be served from 1 to 3 p.m., followed by a guest speaker and the honor guard salute. A band will perform at the post that night. The event is open to the public. 

For more information: Call VFW Post 1925 at 812-522-1207.

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