190525 Memorial Day Parade 1

The 2019 Memorial Day Parade led off with the Niagara Falls Police color guard with bagpiper Lt. Dave Cudahy.

Memorial Day 2020 left Falls City Council Chair Kenny Tompkins “heartbroken.”

The annual parade to honor America’s veterans, that he had helped to renew and nurture had became a victim of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. But Tompkins was hopefully 2021 would see a return of the start-of-summer tradition.

It won’t.

On Tuesday, Tompkins and other sponsors of the Falls Memorial Day Parade announced it was being cancelled over continued concerns about the safety of such a gathering while the region and the nation remain in a fight against COVID-19.

“We didn’t want to cancel it,” Tompkins said glumly. “But I spoke to (Mayor Robert Restaino) and the supervisors in the Town of Niagara and Lewiston and it’s just not time yet.”

All the elected officials spoke of their fears of a large public gathering at a time when COVID-19 infections are once again rising even as more and more people are being vaccinated against the disease.

“There’s no way to social distance the parade. People are gonna be packed in together,” Tompkins said. “And you’re gonna have veterans there, who are older, and they’re at the greatest risk. The most responsible thing is not to have it.”

As he did last year, Tompkins is hopeful that even without the parade, Pine Avenue can still be festooned with American flags. The Council chair said he already has the flags on hand and ready to be put up.

He hopes to meet soon, with Restaino, to see if that can be arranged.

Tompkins said he has not heard from representatives of the Veterans Memorial in Hyde Park on what, if any, plans they may have for this Memorial Day. In 2020, the Memorial hosted a small service that observed COVID protocols.

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