By SCOTT JACKSON
Quincy’s Memorial and Flag Day parades won’t be held year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Thomas Koch said, and the annual Squirrel Run road race has likewise been cancelled.
The city has traditionally commemorated Memorial Day with a parade through Quincy Center followed by an observance ceremony at Mount Wollaston Cemetery. Koch said this year’s parade would be cancelled but a subdued ceremony could still be held at the cemetery.
“Memorial Day is coming up and we have made the decision in conjunction with our veterans services director that we will not be having the standard Memorial Day Parade and other exercises at Mount Wollaston,” Koch said.
“We will probably have something very simple to honor those who gave their lives for our nation at Mount Wollaston, but it will be subdued because of the times we are living in and to maintain social distancing.”
Quincy’s annual Flag Day parade in June is the longest-running parade to celebrate the holiday in the country and ends with fireworks at Pageant Field. The mayor’s father, Richard Koch, began the tradition in 1952.
The mayor said the decision to cancel the Flag Day parade was a heartbreaker for him.
“Every year since 1952 there has been a Flag Day parade and celebration in Quincy. The parade was started by my dad at Cavanagh Field and it has expanded citywide. For the last couple of decades, we have had one heck of a show capped off by fireworks. That is being cancelled at this point,” Koch said.
“Even as we ramp up and reopen things, I don’t believe we will be ready for that kind of event where people are shoulder-to-shoulder along the parade route and at the field. We will certainly find some way to honor Old Glory and its great history and what it means to all of us in some fashion.”
The annual Squirrel Run is also held in June. Rich Kennedy began the event to raise money for ALS in memory of his brother, Jimmy. Koch said the race’s organizer, Lou Tozzi, notified him this year’s race would be cancelled.
“I also was notified by Lou Tozzi, former track coach in Quincy, that they have cancelled the Squirrel Run race, which was run by Rich Kennedy in honor of his late brother who died of ALS to raise money for ALS. They feel badly about it as well, but it is just one of those things we cannot control right now,” Koch said.
“We thank Lou and the Kennedy family and all the work they have done over the years. I know they are equally as committed to beat this disease, but the Squirrel Run will not be held.”