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154-year Memorial Day tradition unstopped amid COVID-19 pandemic

Approximately 60 automobiles and floats gathered in the Natchez Visitor Center parking lot on Monday morning to observe a 154-year tradition of parading to the Natchez National Cemetery on Memorial Day.

Participants from Vidalia drove across the Mississippi River bridge at approximately 8 a.m. and stopped in the Natchez Visitor Center parking lot to meet participants from Natchez before proceeding with a parade in their vehicles through downtown Natchez to the national cemetery.

Traditionally participants march on foot but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants drove their vehicles and those who did get out at the Visitor Center parking lot to visit wore facial masks and kept a 6-foot social distance from each other.

“This is our contribution for Memorial Day,” said Jemecia Williams, 34, who drove her children Shakyra, Jakyron and Jaquan over from Vidalia to participate in Monday’s parade. “This is to show our honor and respect to the military.”

Jakyron, Jaquan, Shakyra and Jemecia Williams of Vidalia participated in Monday’s annual Memorial Day Parade. (Scott Hawkins / The Natchez Democrat)

Williams said her father is a member of American Legion Post 590 and she has participated in the annual parade for approximately 30 years.

Lorraine Franklin of Natchez was in her car that was decorated with red, white and blue ribbons and said she has participated in the parade for approximately 20 years.

Lorraine Franklin of Natchez participated in Monday’s Memorial Day Parade. (Scott Hawkins / The Natchez Democrat)

“My dad was a veteran and this is to show gratitude to him and the military,” Franklin said. “It is to honor them. I owe my freedom to them for all they did.”

The line or 60 or so cars left the visitor center parking lot at approximately 9:30 p.m. behind a law enforcement escort of sirens and lights, paraded through downtown Natchez and ended at the gates of the Natchez National Cemetery before dispersing.