PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – The City of Portsmouth celebrated Memorial Day with the oldest parade in the nation.
This year marks the 130th Memorial Day parade in the city. The marching started at I.C. Norcom High School and ended in Olde Towne.
“We come every year. We love it. It’s a good, authentic parade,” said Jack Chase, who drove from Hampton. “Small enough to be quaint, strong enough to be very patriotic.”
For many, the marching bands are a highlight, especially the rivalry between Portsmouth high schools I.C. Norcom and Woodrow Wilson.
” I don’t know what they’re playing, but I want to play with them!” said Iyana Parker, who played clarinet for Woodrow Wilson High School in the 90s.
But for some the connection to the event is even deeper.
“I just want them to learn to appreciate our veterans, those who are serving those who have served,” said Janet Meeks, who brought her two grandsons.
The boys’ father, an Air Force and Army veteran, died last year. Meeks wore a shirt with his face and name.
Spectators kept the true meaning of the holiday in mind, as they watched the procession through for the 130th time.
“It’s quite a tribute to the country,” said Chase.
Following the festivities, the city held a service to memorialize local Vietnam Veterans killed in the line of duty. The solemn event happened in the courtyard of the Portsmouth Art and Cultural center, near the parade finish.