PictureCity of Mill Valley first responders, Local Scouts and I Love a Parade Committee’s Larry “the Hat” Lautzker gathered outside City Hall to honor the fallen heroes of Memorial Day. Courtesy image.

For the first time in recent memory, the landmark Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, which regularly draws more than 6,000 spectators each year and more than 60 organizations and businesses as participants, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

But City of Mill Valley officials and the I Love a Parade Committee that organizes the parade weren’t about to let “those fallen heroes who served our country and protected the American dream.”

The parade is set to return in 2021. In the meantime, local filmmakers Ken and Fergus Campbell created a gorgeous video spanning a virtual memorial event held on Friday, May 22 outside Mill Valley City Hall and incorporating classic footage from parades from the past several decades. City of Mill Valley Mayor Sashi McEntee kicked it off with a speech and the poem “We Shall Keep the Faith” from the First World War.

The ceremony is traditionally held on Throckmorton Avenue across from Lytton Square, the tree-laden island that splits the road between Miller and Corte Madera avenues into two. The island, which features a trio of towering redwood trees, a flagpole and a number of places to sit. is named for Lytton Barber, Mill Valley’s first WWI casualty, as memorialized in a plaque on the island.

According to longtime local history buff Tim Amyx, Barber grew up in Mill Valley and was 17 years old in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. He volunteered and was sent for training at Fort Lewis. Shortly after he arrived, he caught the fever of spinal meningitis. Tragically, it claimed his life within two weeks. He died stateside before he ever left the continental U.S., the first casualty from Mill Valley. The following spring, on Memorial Day of 1918, there was a dedication in his honor in Mill Valley, and thus Lytton Square was born.

The Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade was first produced in 1980. It was organized by Paul Moe, who still handles staging for the parade’s current iteration. The “I Love a Parade Committee” was formed in 1992 by the late Joe’s Taco Lounge owner Joe Leis, followed by local architect Billy Budd and assisted by Famous4 owner Larry “the Hat” Lautzker, who has been the head of the committee since 2002. The committee also includes Moe and former City Council member and Mayor Cliff Waldeck. 

The 411: The flag-raising ceremony is at 9:45am at Lytton Square. The parade begins at Old Mill Park at 10:30am, turning onto Miller Ave. before heading to Tam High. Parade entry applications.

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