Memorial Day parade celebrates 'A Better Tomorrow'

Young spectators await the start of last year's University Heights Memorial Day Parade. [photo: Doug Tayek]

The University Heights Memorial Day Parade not only commemorates those we lost in service to our country, it celebrates the freedoms we enjoy.

This year’s parade will again step off at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day, May 27, with a memorial ceremony immediately following. This year’s theme is “A Better Tomorrow.”

The city of University Heights has proudly held an annual Memorial Day Parade since 1966 (with the exception of 2020, when it was canceled due to the pandemic). It is the longest-running east-side parade in Greater Cleveland

“This is not only the oldest and largest parade on the east side, it’s also the best,” said University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan. “The community is invested in the event. They want it to be successful, and it is.”

“The theme is a nod to the city’s Superman heritage,” explained Deanna Bremer Fisher, who is in charge of special projects for University Heights.

“The co-creators of Superman, Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, lived in University Heights in the 1940s, and, while Superman is best known for the motto ‘Truth, Justice, and the American Way’ that he had during WWII, his new motto is ‘Truth, Justice, and A Better Tomorrow.’

“Our theme honors the fact that America’s service men and women have fought for ‘A Better Tomorrow,’ for Americans, and, often for all of us.”

2024 University Heights Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal and Memorial Day Keynote Speaker is Iraq War combat veteran and University Heights resident Mitch Leibsla.

Leibsla was awarded multiple medals for his service, including the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Badge, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

The parade will feature Robin VanLear’s Romare Bearden Puppets and Dance Hall Girl Dancers, the Rocket Car, the Batmobile, a Dixieland Band, the Ohio Army National Guard, Super Cooper, and more.

Construction at John Carroll University continues and once again necessitates an adjusted parade route. The parade will begin on Silsby Road, between Ashurst and Canterbury roads as before, and conclude at Gearity Professional Development School.

After the parade, residents are invited to gather at Gearity to partake of food and beverages from local food trucks; children’s activities, including a bounce house, bubbles with Dr. U.R. Awesome, and magic; and more.

The Memorial Day ceremony, featuring Leibsla’s keynote address, an original poem by Heights Poet Laureate Siaara Freeman, and patriotic songs played by the University Heights Symphonic Band, will be held at Gearity beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Mike Cook

Mike Cook is the communications and civic engagement director for University Heights.

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Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 1:17 PM, 04.29.2024