Coupeville’s annual Memorial Day parade marches on

— Created May 25, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

After a two-year hiatus, Coupeville is pleased to bring its annual Memorial Day parade back to Whidbey Island. The parade is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, beginning at 1st and Main Streets and making its way down to Front Street and winding up at the Town Park, where there will be additional activities.

“Isn’t it exciting?” asked Lynda Eccles, executive director of the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event. “We love being able to celebrate our veterans, past and present. It’s great to be back to normal, whatever ‘normal’ is these days.”

Eccles said this Coupeville tradition is one of the oldest small town Memorial Day parades in Washington and Oregon and has been going on at least 25 years. She said not only is she excited to bring the parade back, she believes the community is ready for it, too, by the looks of those who have registered to participate.

“The parade is made up of lots of wonderful veterans and community members,” she said. “We will have the fire engines, 4-H, an assortment of community veterans and the Model A Ford Club have all signed up. People are really excited to be a part of it. There will be all sorts of different entries. It’s going to be good.”

Maj. Gen. Patricia (Trish) Rose, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), will be representing the Armed Forces this year.

“We’re excited about that,” Eccles said. “I think it will bring something special, having her participate. She, of course, will represent the Armed Forces and will be doing the remembrance with Mayor Molly Hughes at the park following the parade.”

“I’m very honored to be the military representative at this year’s Memorial Day observances,” Rose told Whidbey Weekly via email. “I look forward to being in Coupeville on Saturday, and Oak Harbor on Monday, where we will gather to remember, reflect, and respect those who have been lost to their country, to their family, to their community, and to their fellow service men and women. Because, the harsh reality of war and military service in general, is that not everyone will make it home.  Let us honor the memory of heroes no longer with us.  And let us strive to live up to the example set by such selfless patriots each and every day.”

 After the parade, as Eccles said, the community will gather at the park to continue the commemoration of those who paid the ultimate price in service to their country. There will be the traditional remembrance ceremony, the Prairie Center Market has donated hot dogs, chips and ice cream and the Central Whidbey Lions Club will be cooking and serving the free food while supplies last. A concert will follow the remembrance.

“There will be a musical salute to the armed services as well,” confirmed Eccles. “So it should be a fun, old-fashioned picnic day up by the park. Bring a blanket or a chair and just enjoy the afternoon. Hopefully the sun will be shining and it will be a beautiful Chamber of Commerce day in Coupeville.”

For all the fun and enjoyment the day promises, Eccles said she thinks the community especially loves to come together to celebrate such a special holiday.

“I think what makes Coupeville so special is the sense of community it has, the sense of tradition,” she said. “People pick up on that positive vibe. And we love to acknowledge our lost service members and celebrate our veterans. Sadly, we have new lost veterans, so it’s very special. It always brings a tear to your eye.

“But there’s something so unique about the fact we still do this,” Eccles continued. “The world might be changing but we’re carrying on, Coupeville strong. We’re keeping traditions alive and that is especially important in a changing world.”

More than anything, Eccles hopes the Whidbey community will come out in force to take part in this day of remembrance.

“It’s a moving parade. Come out and enjoy the parade, enjoy Coupeville, enjoy the island,” she encouraged. “Come out with or without your masks and just enjoy the first Memorial Day parade in two years. It’s a time to reflect, a time to look to the future. It’s a celebration of people who have fought for our country. When you think of everything happening now in Ukraine, our past veterans have done the same; they fought and died in the name of our country. We should acknowledge them and celebrate them. And celebrate the community.”