Many people hear about the historic Malvern Memorial Parade and wonder: Why is it held the week after Memorial Day?
From the beginning, the idea of a Decoration Day parade rapidly grew in popularity, as local veterans posts sought to have their own parade. Malvern, West Chester and Wayne were no exception. It was from this dilemma that the specific day of our Parade was established.
One version of the story is that there were only a limited number of fire wagons in the area (there were only about 700 residents in Malvern in 1880) and each town wanted to include them in their parade. A second version is that the towns wanted the local Civil War veterans to participate, but neither the fire wagons nor the veterans could be in two parades at once.
So early on, the three communities decided that West Chester would hold their parade the day before, Wayne the day of, and Malvern the Sunday after Decoration Day. That tradition has been maintained ever since.
Another common question: Is Malvern's parade really the longest-running in the country?
The answer isn't totally clear, but around the time of last year's parade, frequent commenter MacTavish14 helped clear it up a bit. After an Ohio town made the same claim, MacTavish did some research and discovered there were several parades claiming to be the oldest:
While Malvern has documentation that a parade was held in 1868, no documentation has been uncovered to definitively prove that the parade has been held consecutively (unlike Ironton, OH can assert).
YET, Malvern had held parades in memoriam to fallen soldiers previous to the national Decoration Day decree, in honor of the Paoli Massacre. The parades were supposedly on September 20 of each year.
But we all know Malvern's is the best, anyway.
[Edited 5/31/12 to reflect that Schmitt edited 'A Century in Malvern.']