BEVERLY — When Director of Veterans Services David Perinchief was put in charge of reviving the city’s downtown Memorial Day parade, he decided to think big.

And nothing says big like a 65,000-pound Sherman tank.

Two years after the parade was canceled, the city is planning a rousing comeback. Monday’s parade will feature not only the tank but military Humvees, a World War II Jeep, classic cars, motorcycles, trolley cars, a 105-millimeter cannon, World War II re-enactors, an Iwo Jima survivor, the city’s two oldest living veterans, the Beverly High School marching band, and a camera drone hovering above it all.

The city is advertising this year’s ceremonies, which will span two days, as “2015 Memorial Day: Back on Track.”

“They want it to be back to a big thing in Beverly and I think it’s great,” said Wayne Woodbury, the senior vice commander of the Herman A. Spear American Legion Post in Beverly.

Like many communities, Beverly has held Memorial Day parades dating back to the holiday’s origins after the Civil War. The city, in fact, has two parades, including one in Beverly Farms.

Two years ago officials decided to forgo the downtown parade, saying it was too difficult for aging veterans to participate. They planned to just hold a ceremony at Odell Park. The decision ended up drawing unwelcome national attention, with one website blasting the city for holding a parade for American Idol star Angie Miller but not for veterans.

Last year, a group of about 30 veterans marched to the ceremony at Odell Park in an attempt to bring back the parade.

Perinchief, who took over as the city’s veterans agent in 2014, said he was encouraged by Mayor Mike Cahill to get the parade back on track.

“The first thing I did was go out and get a tank,” Perinchief said.

Former Director of Veteran Services Jerry Guilebbe said his successor deserves credit for invigorating the Memorial Day commemoration. Perinchief was a Marine Corps infantry leader who was wounded in Iraq in 2006 and awarded the Purple Heart.

“You get a new guy come in. He’s vibrant; he’s young,” Guilebbe said. “He’s really rallied the troops together.”

The ceremonies will begin on Sunday at noon with a barbecue in the parking lot of City Hall. The tank, which is being supplied by the Collings Foundation of Stowe, is scheduled to arrive around 1 p.m.

The parade will be held on Monday, starting at 1 p.m. at the American Legion Spear Post on Pond Street. The parade will stop at Odell Park on Rantoul Street for a ceremony that will include the dedication of a plaque in honor of John Condon and Arthur Denault, who at 95 are the city’s two oldest known veterans.

Perinchief said the idea behind Memorial Day is to honor veterans who died for their country, but also to celebrate their service.

“Being a veteran myself, having been in combat, losing friends, I never met a single veteran that said, ‘Feel sorry for me,’” he said. “There’s not one guy I know who would ever say, ‘Sit there and mourn me.’ They would say, ‘Go out there and have fun.’”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or


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