The Loyalty Day Parade has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual event is considered the unofficial start of spring in Rutland. It had been scheduled for May 3, but organizers sent out an email Monday calling it off.
“The VFW Post 648 Loyalty Day Parade has been canceled for Sunday, May 3rd, due to the virus,” parade chairwomen Donna Manfredi and Shella Mills wrote. The stay at home order will not end in time for all entries to be ready. We would like to thank all that have donated to the Parade. The donations received will go toward advertising and next years Parade fund. We will be put a Thank-You in Sam’s Good News & the Mountain Times and also on PEG-TV.”
Loyalty Day was created in the 1950s as a response to the Soviet-era May Day parades held in Communist bloc countries. Rutland has long prided itself on the size of its Loyalty Day parade, which features a large collection of fire departments, color guards, marching bands, antique cars and patriotic floats winding through a rout around and through downtown.
“I’ve been going to the Loyalty Day parade for many, many years now, in my younger years as an onlooker and for the last 22 as a participant,” Mayor David Allaire said Tuesday. “There’s a lot of volunteer work put in by the organizers and it’s a highlight of the spring season. It’s a chance to get out and celebrate our country.”
Allaire said the cancellation was sad, but that it was another example of Rutland doing what was necessary to deal with the pandemic.
“It’s another victim of the COVID-19 virus that we are all going to get through,” he said.
Organizers have said the in the past that the parade had been canceled once before in its more than 50-year history, but that they were unsure on details. It was almost canceled a few years ago after a longtime organizer retired, but new volunteers stepped forward at the last minute to rescue it.