Real ‘Starr’ power for Memorial Day Parade

‘Our Gal’  Sally Starr to Participate in the Kennett Square  for 19th time.

By Ginna Goodall, Correspondent,

TV legend Sally Starr will be a highlight of this year's Memorial Day Parade in Kennett.

KENNETT SQUARE — Captain Kangaroo, Bozo the Clown and Howdy Dowdy all were national kiddie show stars of the past.  Then there were the myriad of local broadcasting stations with their own children’s programming hosts such as “Salty” Brine in Rhode Island or Miss Merrily from the Magic Toy Shop in upstate New York.   Sally Starr, aka “Your Gal Sal”, was the beloved children’s personality of Philadelphia’s WFIL-TV’s Popeye Theater from 1950 to the early 1970’s.  And now she’s coming back to Kennett Square for her 19th visit, as part of the annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 30th.

Many local baby boomers fondly remember Sally Starr, dressed in sparkly cowgirl outfits with a pair of six-shooters on her hips as she introduced the daily cartoons.  An Official Sally Starr Facebook Fan Page has dozens of entries from admirers who reminisce about Sally singing country tunes and gently instilling wholesome values in her young audience.  A fan from Unionville told of sending away for a Sally Starr “fundraiser kit” that guided youngsters in organizing their own benefit for charity.  Mary recalls holding a backyard fair with carnival games, a gypsy fortune-teller, and other simple activities and then sending the profits back to Sally’s personal charity.

Born Alleen Mae Beller in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, Sally Starr debuted on radio with her sister at the age of 12.   Eventually coming to Philadelphia for a country radio program, Sally became a veritable television pioneer, making her mark in what was once a traditionally male business.   In addition to her tenure on television, Sally also recorded country tunes and kiddie songs with Bill Haley & the Comets, performed in several movies including the last feature film of The Three Stooges, and authored a couple of children’s books.  She eventually returned to her original roots on radio and retired at the age of 88 with her final Suppertime Jamboree program on WVLT this past April.   Sally signed off that show, as she always did on television, with a wish for “Love, Luck, and Lollipops.”

Sally especially enjoyed making special appearances at fairs, store openings, fundraisers, and, of course, local parades.  At one point, she rode her palomino horse “Pal” in the parades.  This year, Sally will be riding in one of the vintage convertibles for the May 30th Kennett Square Memorial Day Parade.

The parade is organized by volunteer Bill Taylor in order to honor local veterans.  Besides Sally Star, there will be several high school bands — including Unionville and Kennett high schools — fife and drum corps, bag pipers, and color guard groups.  A wonderful assortment of antique military vehicles and convertibles are presented, along with Civil War and Revolutionary War Re-enactors, local sports teams and much more.

From marching bands, to military reenactors, this year's Kennett Memorial Day Parade will have it all -- topping even 2010, which featured Uncle Sam riding in a classic car.

Beginning at 10 am, the parade route starts at the Kennett High School on East South Street, progresses up South Union Street to East Cypress.  The marchers will wend their way through Kennett Borough on South Broad Street to State Street and eventually to the Union Hill Cemetery on North Union Street.  A special ceremony commemorating   There will be four Grand Marshals for this year’s parade, honoring the veterans of World War II – Anthony N. Basilio Sr. , Raymond  Basilio, and Ralph DiCarlo all of Kennett Square, and Charles Leonzis of Wilmington, De.

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