CENTRE COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– The 156th Memorial Day celebrated Monday in Boalsburg, Centre County had a different look compared to the usual pageantry.
The Boalsburg Diamond, typically a packed-house for a 6:00 p.m. ceremony was limited to a small invite-only crowd… in order to keep everyone safe from Covid-19. The ceremony was broadcasted live on Facebook.
While many of the normal scenes (including a crowd of thousands) were absent throughout town Monday, the celebration of Memorial Day–including many Boalsburg traditions–did not cease.
Flags were still proudly presented throughout town on just about every home and business.
Throughout the day, many returned to the Boalsburg Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of fallen servicemen and women–as was done 156 years ago by the first three women (Emma Hunter, Sophie Keller, and Elizabeth Myers) who began the tradition.
While some were disappointed much of the fanfare was absent in 2020, others felt there were fewer distractions from what they called the “true meaning” of Memorial Day.
“I think we are going back to the true meaning of Memorial Day… without a lot of the celebrations and stands. Without the concession stands I think we’re more honoring our veterans who sacrificed and died and also the one’s who live on to tell their stories. I think we’re going more back to the roots of memorial day,” said Suzanne Lamb of State College.
Monday in Bellefonte, outside the Centre County Courthouse, a small ceremony was held in front of a crowd of about 25, to honor fallen servicemen and women.
Normally the ceremony draws between 200 and 300 people, with music, and a 21-gun salute.
But due to Covid-19, the ceremony wasn’t advertised–to keep the community safe.
Without much of the pomp and circumstance, locals said there are still some things that never change.
“The meaning never changes. Whether there’s 100 people, 200 people, or 3 or 4 people. The sentiment and traditional placing of the wreath and the honoring of the veterans always stays the same whether it’s one person or 1,000 people,” said Thomas Wilson, Navy Veteran & Bellefonte Mayor.
He said he hopes Bellefonte will return to their normal Memorial Day Ceremony in 2021.