The annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Toms River has a new date, at least for this year with schools closed the entire week of the holiday.

Downtown Toms River outside Administration Building. (Vin Ebenau, Townsquare Media)
Downtown Toms River outside Administration Building. (Vin Ebenau, Townsquare Media)

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) has their convention scheduled for November 10-11th this year, but schools in Ocean County are closed the entire week of November 7-12, which also includes Election Tuesday.

Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher explains that as a result of the schools closing, "there would be no school bands for the parade," Kelaher adds, "Toms River Schools have always fielded three high school bands and three intermediate school bands."

This presented a quandary of either staging an extremely low-profile event on the traditional 11/11, or breaking with tradition and moving it to Monday, November 14. The latter choice won immediate favor with the Toms River Veterans Day Commission.

"The Veterans Day Commission feels that they're honoring all the veterans, from all different wars," said Kelaher. "If people are inconvenienced, it's a small price to pay for what the veterans did for this country."

He related that the Commission gathered their permits to march on Main and  Washington Streets before visiting the schools.

"The Superintendent of Schools committed himself to do all he could to assist the veterans and furnish the bands for the parade," said Kelaher.

Detours on Monday the 14th will also be set up around the route by police, which Kelaher says they know by heart.

"They do it all the time," explains Kelaher. "They do it for all the parades we have every year, such as the Veterans Day Parade, the Halloween Parade and the Memorial Day Parade."

The parade starts at 9:30 am at the Toms River Shopping Center on Route 37, heads southbound onto Main Street (Route 166), and then onto Washington Street.

Inside the parade route will be first responders, military vehicles, elected officials, civic groups, school marching bands, and a showcase of vintage cars.

Following the parade will be a ceremony outside town hall in Toms River featuring a commemorative salute starting around 11 am, signifying the end of World War I on the 11th hour on the 11th day.

"I think it's important for all the youngsters in school to be made aware of what really happened," said Kelaher.

He adds that having a parade is the right thing to do to honor those who have served our nation and all the sacrifices they made.

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