Pratolas, Hopkins named Grand Marshall for Memorial Day Parade


Fred Patrola, pictured in the years just after World War II, is one of three local residents named as Grand Marshall of the annual Memorial Day Parade in Kennett Square.

KENNETT — World War II veterans Michael B. Pratola, Jr., Fred Patrola, Sr., and Robert Hopkins, Sr. were selected as this year’s Grand Marshals for the Kennett Square Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 25. They will lead the 1000-plus marchers through Kennett Square, as the town honors all its local veterans, past and present.

Michael Pratola, Jr. was drafted in July 1944 and sent to Alabama for basic training. As part of the Fifth Army Infantry, he was shipped to Italy. Patrola, Jr. moved to the Special MP to guard Naples Harbor. At Naples Harbor he operated a 75 ton floating crane at the Harbor Craft Company, where he supervised the work of 12 Army veterans and 14 Italian civilians. Patrola, Jr. was discharged in August 1946.

In 1947, Fred Patrola, Sr. served with the Central HQ group in Tokyo, Japan. He served as a custodian during the War Crime Trials in a building referred to as the “West Point of Japan.” At that time, General MacArthur was in Tokyo, as well as lawyers from around the world.

Robert Hopkins, Sr. joined the US Marine Corps in 1944, completing his basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. He was station in Guam, then sent to Chichi-jima to guard Japanese war crime criminals. Hopkins escorted the war criminals by ship to Guam and continued to guard them as they faced trial for their crimes. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Many military and veterans groups will participate in the parade. Local veterans will march and/or ride in antique cars and military vehicles. The Marine Color Guard, the Navy Color Guard, and the Glasgow High School JRROTC color guard are expected to march in the parade. Many reenactor groups, representing various historic events, will be part of the parade.

Among the civilian units expected to march at this year’s parade are: the Joseph A. Ferko Mummers String Band, 1899 Carousel Street Organ, Christiana Clampets, Stanley Steamers from Auburn Heights, Chinese Folk Dance Troupe, local high school marching bands, youth groups, and much more.

The Kennett Square Memorial Day Parade is the largest Memorial Day Parade in Chester County with 12,000-15,000 spectators along the parade route. The parade kicks off at 10 am from Kennett High School, travels up S. Union Street, turns right at Cypress Street, then left on Broad Street, right on East State Street, turns right onto N. Union Street, and ends at Union Cemetery with a special memorial ceremony.

Please contact Bill Taylor, at 610-444-3810 or to participate in the parade or for more information.

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