ABOUT THE LABOUR DAY PARADE
This year marks the 73rd Anniversary of the Merritton Lions Parade. It began in 1946 when a group of community minded citizens decided it was time to celebrate Merritton. The leader of this action was none other than a great icon in the town by the name of Len “Trapper” Leo. Anyone who attended the parade in the early days has to remember Trapper leading off the event, dressed in his coon skin hat and coat and carrying his hunting rifle.
There was considerable emphasis on the children’s portion of the parade with bikes, wagons and tricycles riding along the route, all competing for the best decorated entry to win the prizes shown in Mr. Hardy’s hardware store window. This format carried on until the mid 1950s when the Lions Club assumed the task of presenting the event. Lion Willy Alexander was the Lion who stepped up and became the parade marshal. He continued this activity for almost 20 years with the help of family and friends. During this period, the parade grew in magnitude and the starting point changed several time from points that included Townline, the Pen Centre, Bunting Road, Queenston Street and Pinecrest Avenue.
One of the best received entries in the early and mid-1950s was the Merritton Grenadiers Drum Corps. This unit always led the parade and displayed their talent as well with field shows and attendance when we had a “church parade” on the Sunday of the weekend. At the same time the parade welcomed some very talented bands from the United States with most being high school marching bands. These groups not only marched in the parade but also presented a “field show” in the community park following the parade.
The local unions were invited to be part of the parade very early on in the years during the 1950s. It became a celebration of Labour Day and Community Days. This participation continues to flourish with many local and area unions and their membership taking part.
Presently, the parade remains a major happening within the Merritton and St. Catharines areas. Large crowds gather all along the route from the Pen Centre parking lot to the swimming pool. The Merritton Lions Club, and the direction of Parade Chairman Lion Jeff White, continue to fund the majority of the major costs of the parade and prepare the line-up routine, as well as all of the other minutia it takes to present the event.
The people of Merritton show pride in the fact that they can call themselves “Merrittonians” and never more so than during our wonderful Community Day festivities