PERKASIE — With the social distancing restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the normal Memorial Day Parade won't be happening in Perkasie and Sellersville this year.
There still will be an observance of Memorial Day and a chance to say thank you to local veterans, though.
The American Legion Nase-Kraft Post 255 in Sellersville and American Legion Hartzell-Crouthamel Post 280 in Perkasie will have a drive-by event with veterans in cars, Perkasie Park & Recreation Director Megan Prusienski said in answer to a question at the May 18 Perkasie Borough Council meeting, held as a teleconference. The Perkasie Borough Police Department and Perkasie, Sellersville, Silverdale, Dublin and Hilltown fire companies will also have vehicles in the event, she said. There will be no walkers.
The information from the American Legion posts had just been received that day and posted on the borough's Facebook page, she said.
In the posting, the word “parade” was used to describe the event, along with the route, which will begin from Pennridge High School in East Rockhill at 10 a.m., go along 5th Street in Perkasie to 4th Street, then to Temple Avenue in Sellersville, left on Grandview Avenue and end at the parking lot at Grandview and Diamond Street.
Spectators were invited to attend, but told to maintain social distancing, wear a face mask and carry hand sanitizer if possible.
Mayor John Hollenbach said this was the first he'd heard of the plans and was concerned there might be a violation of state rules.
Prusienski said she had used the word “parade” lightly.
“It's a drive-by caravan,” she said.
“I know they want to do something and I'm certainly all for honoring the veterans, but I'm just concerned that,” Hollenbach said, “they're gonna put veterans in cars together.”
He said he's been in the parade other years.
“I've sat in the cars and the convertibles and there's no social distancing going on,” he said.
This year, either the veteran or family members will be driving the vehicle in which the veteran will be riding, Prusienski said.
The caravan will not stop anywhere in Perkasie, she said.
“They're going to go slow, but they shouldn't hold up any traffic,” she said.
“It's not actually a parade in the normal sense where you actually need to close roads,” Borough Manager Andrea Coaxum said in answer to a question of whether the borough had approved the event, which it normally does for parades.
Asked if the borough could have liability issues over the event, Jeff Garten, the borough's solicitor, said no.
“You haven't sponsored it. You haven't authorized it. It's happening in your borough, but it's happening in Sellersville as well, so it's not really a liability for you because you didn't sanction it,” he said.
Coaxum said the event is similar to the drive-by celebrations of birthdays or anniversaries that have been happening under the social distancing guidelines.
“Let's figure at this point, it's a fire engine drive-by,” council President Jim Ryder said.
“That's the way I would deal with it,” Hollenbach agreed.
Questions were also raised whether the borough should remove its Facebook posting and/or drop a planned press release. The Facebook posting already had 89 likes, though, council member Scott Bomboy said.
“There's no way I want to dishonor our veterans, my goodness, and I know a lot of these guys,” said Hollenbach, who said he is a member of the Perkasie post.
“It's a drive-through in honor of the veterans,” he said, “but just don't call it a parade.”