KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) — People all over Western New York came together Monday to recognize veterans who gave everything for our freedom.

The Memorial Day parade in Kenmore has been going on for over 70 years and is one of the largest in the region.

Hundreds lined Delaware Avenue Monday morning to partake in the community tradition which hasn’t happened in two years due to the pandemic.

While many gathered with family for the holiday, former Army staff sergeant John Long said it’s important to remind people what the day is about.

“So many young people made the final sacrifice so we have all the freedoms we have today and that’s what people need to remember.”

Organizers expected a huge crowd and they got one.

Chairman Wayne Baumgartner said they brought the parade back as strong as it was pre-COVID.

“It’s nice to honor the vets, the ones that didn’t come back. That’s the important thing. People confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. Memorial Day is for the deceased, Veterans Day is for all veterans, but this is the day that they paid the sacrifice,” he said.

Shelley Femia has lived in Kenmore for years but this was her first year bringing her family to the parade.

“I’m amazed at how many people are here, it’s awesome, this is beautiful,” she said. “I’m just very proud that this is our town, this is great.”

Whether it’s been a family tradition for years or this year started a brand new one, the people of Kenmore agree it’s good to be back.

Stacy and Mike Gnacinski have been going to the parade with their respective families since they were young.

They met up on a Memorial Day years ago and the rest is history.

The couple brought their daughter to the parade for the first time. She missed her first one due to last year’s cancellation.

“We’re happy to be back, we love the parade, we come every year,” Stacy said.

“It’s been too long, we haven’t been here in a couple of years and it’s even more special to us and our family we‘ve been here our whole entire lives it’s actually part of how we met and how we came to be so it’s exciting to be able to bring the next generation to the Kenmore parade,” said Mike.

The day is special to many and a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.