Mercer Memorial Day 500 returning
By MONICA PRYTS
Allied News Staff Writer
MERCER – Mercer Memorial Day 500 organizers are in a time crunch to plan this year’s event after receiving a last-minute approval to throw a parade.
“This is something our Mercer community needs,” said Aaron Sines, the event’s director.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of last year’s parade and most activities, but Sines and other volunteers held a small memorial service. It was the first time since the inaugural 2003 event that the majority of the day’s activities were canceled.
Organizers were notified earlier this month that Penn-DOT approved a permit for the parade, which is a large undertaking, Sines said.
Parade planning typically starts in October, so organizers need all the help they can get for the May 31 event, less than six weeks away. Setting up the event annually includes placing 500 American flags along the parade route on May 27.
The event also calls for volunteers to serve during the Memorial Day event. Sines is calling for veterans, community groups, service organizations to register for the parade as soon as possible.
“We’re going to be appreciative and thankful for everything,” Sines said.
The parade starts at 11 a.m. on West Venango Street in Mercer then heads to South Pitt Street.
The Mercer Memorial Day 500 is distinctive for its recognition of a half-dozen or so living or deceased local veterans. The list of honorees is still being finalized, Sines said. The event also features a 5K race
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Mercer Memorial Day 500 is returning this year
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that starts at 9 a.m. outside the Mercer borough building, 145 N. Pitt St.
Mercer Rotary Club is organizing the race, now called the Jason Michaels Memorial 5K in memory of Michaels, who owned Pizza Joe’s in Mercer and passed away in 2020. The race was previously called the “Freedom Fun Run,” and Michaels was the lead organizer for a number of years.
Proceeds will benefit the Rotary Club. Runners can register for the race online at runsignup.com A memorial service will follow the parade at noon in the Mercer Citizens Cemetery.
Sines said Mercer Memorial Day 500 attendees will be expected to follow social distancing guidelines set by the state, and face coverings are recommended.
While the final schedule is still evolving and could include entertainment — a traditional element of previous Mercer Memorial Day 500 events — Sines said that folks can look forward to a great day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Sines said he is glad to help lead Mercer Memorial Day 500 to honor veterans like his uncle, Norman E. Thomas, who was killed in the Vietnam War. He said organizers would have liked to hold a larger event, but they feel blessed to be able to offer even a scaled-down version.
FOR MORE information, visit www.mercermemorialday500. org or “Mercer Memorial Day 500” on Facebook. To volunteer or sign up for the parade, email MemorialDay500@ gmail.com. Donations may be sent to: Mercer Memorial Day 500, Box 145, Mercer, PA 16137.