⭐ Somerville's Memorial Day parade returns after an absence of several years

⭐ The Tour of Somerville bike race will incorporate the holiday

⭐ See our list of Memorial Day parades to find one close to you

Memorial Day has two different meanings in New Jersey.

It represents the unofficial start of summer when many take their first trip to the Jersey Shore, open up their summer home or fire up the barbecue.  Amid those happy moments, it's also a time to honor service men and women who lost their lives for our country.

For years, towns have held parades that include a solemn ceremony to read the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the past and play "Taps" in their honor. However, with veterans getting older and becoming fewer in number, parades and ceremonies have been canceled in some towns due to falling attendance.

In Somerville, Republican Brian Gallagher returned to office in January on the promise of bringing back the borough's Memorial Day parade. Like in many towns, COVID-19 restrictions meant the parade was canceled in 2020 and 2021. When the opportunity came to bring it back, Gallagher said it wasn't.

"There's very few things that are more important than recognizing those that put service above self. These are people that literally bled for our country. Our young folks need to remember that," Gallagher told New Jersey 101.5. "There's generations of young men and women to this day who are stepping up and saying, 'how can I help other people?' And we have to remember that. We have to show our children that. And I think that's something that's very, very important."

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UPDATED: Memorial Day Parades in New Jersey 2024 (alphabetical)

New Jersey remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day with parades, solemn services, reenactments and fairs. Most events take place Monday, May 27 unless otherwise noted and are subject to change without notice here.

Add your community's parade to our list with an email to dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

Gallery Credit: Dan Alexander

Somerville's 'nice hometown parade'

Gallagher, who served as mayor between 2004 and 2018, said the parade is a "nice hometown parade" with local participants like scouting troops, the police and fire departments and veterans honored with applause as they ride in the back of convertibles.

"I like to say Somerville is two and a half square miles of awesome. And it's these types of events that make it awesome. And it makes it a wonderful place to live," Gallagher said.

The organizers of the Tour of Somerville bike race, the oldest bike race in the country, were more than willing to make the parade part of its event. Gallagher said they helped make it possible for both events to happen on the same day.

"When I sat with the bike race organizers, they get it, they understand it. They're trying to incorporate veterans into some of the ceremonies that they will have during the course of the day," Gallagher said. "They want to be a part of Memorial Day as well. The bike races are a part of Memorial Day, not vice versa."

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