It’s the Memorial Day weekend, but this year, will anyone notice?
This weekend is the traditional start of summer, marked with memorials to those who gave their lives in military service, high school gradations, fish frys, car shows, baseball games and pool openings.
But this year, none of that is happening. Even the Indy 500 has been rescheduled for Aug. 23. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will miss the Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946.
While some of the trappings of the season will still be visible locally — Scouts BSA Troop 901 is still putting out American flags Monday, for example — most of the events have been cancelled thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
The ban on large public gatherings makes Memorial Day ceremonies impossible. Tom Haley of the Oblong American Legion pointed out the group’s annual service at Oblong Cemetery usually draws 100 to 150 people.
“It’s a sad state of affairs, said Past State VFW Commander J.D. “Butch” Spindler, Robinson.
Meanwhile, recreational facilities here have started to reopen.
The club house at Deer Run Golf Course, which usually opens during Memorial Day weekend, is scheduled to reopen June 2, but the miniature golf course and batting cages at Robinson City Park are opening for a new season today.
The city park’s pickle ball courts and playgrounds at both Robinson parks are already back in use.
“We took our signage down,” Mike Shimer said. “We’re not telling you you can, we’re not telling you you can’t.”
The city does want people using the equipment to be responsible, though.
Reopening the city pool is still at least two weeks away, Shimer said.
“We’re still under the state mandate,” he explained.
Also, the pandemic also prevented completing some of the annual repair work needed by the facility.
The floor needed work, Shimer said, but the Indiana company that handles such repairs was unavailable because of the shutdown. The work is now to be done this week.
“Then we’ll see where the state is at,” he said. “But it definitely will not be before June 8.”
The Pelican Cove splash pad may open sooner. Shimer hopes it will open around the first of the month with restrictions. Hours may be changed and numbers will likely be limited to 50 at a time.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources previously reopened state parks, including Red Hills in Lawrence County, Sam Parr in Jasper County and Lincoln Trail in Clark County with restrictions.
The Crawford County Forest Preserve, which is operated by a local board, remained open for activities such as fishing, walking and biking. It closed restrooms, playround and picnicking and meeting facilities, however.
Flags and crosses
Robinson city employees hung 50 flags, one for each state, in front of Robinson New Cemetery.
Stan Mullins, cemetery sexton, said they have placed the flags out for the past seven years.
“We put them out for Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day and weather permitting, Flag Day,” he said.
The workers also placed 136 crosses at the front of the cemetery, which spaced properly form a V that is 60 feet long.
Memorial Day is a time to honor the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the United States military.
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually and nationwide. It is now know as Memorial Day.
He was commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of and for Union Civil War veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois.