Mill Valley hosts first Memorial Day parade in 3 years

Many Bay Area communities are getting back to their annual Memorial Day celebrations after pausing them during the pandemic.

The Memorial Day parade is an annual event in Mill Valley, one of the cities biggest of the year, but they haven’t had once since 2019 because of the pandemic.

On Monday, there was a veterans' celebration where the names of each soldier who never came back home to Mill Valley were read in Lytton Square, which was named after the city’s first World War I casualty.

"Let’s teach our next generation that our flag does not fly because the wind moves it, it flies with the last breath of each solider that died protecting it," said Mill Valley police officer and veteran Kyle Maxwell at the ceremony.

The day started with a pancake breakfast put on by the Mill Valley Volunteer Firefighters Association. They expected about 2,000 people to come out, hundreds more than usual.

"People are ready, they’re ready to get out of the house, we’re going to have a parade. We’re going to have this breakfast and the carnival downtown. It’s a pretty exciting weekend, it’s like the outpouring of the community. I think everybody is pretty excited," said Rich Riechel, president of the Mill Valley Firefighters Association.

The event usually raises $10-15,000 dollars for the organization, with the local Boy Scouts of America troop helping to cook, serve and clean.

"We’ve actually already spent some time where we planted flags in the presidio. So we have a number of Memorial Day things that we planned for and this is just another one of them," said Brett Conklin, the troop's scout master.

The event was one of the troop's first chances to finally volunteer in-person for years.

"I just remember (volunteering at the pancake breakfast) as a little scout, and it’s kind of cool coming back to do it as a big scout now," said eagle scout Riley Conklin.

The day was packed with music, food, costumes, and flags, ending with a carnival at the Mill Valley Community Center Friend's Field.

But for veterans, they hope kids know the day is about more than pancakes and parades, and say the history of our fallen Americans should be at the forefront.

"The younger generation, if they don’t know, how can they lead? They can’t. You have to go back. And when history is brought up, and you can talk about it, they’ll get a glimpse of what a lot of our Americans died for," said Dwight Carbone, a Vietnam Veteran from Pinole.