Area towns prepare for Memorial Day activities

May 26—Memorial Day becomes a time of remembrance in Taft and Fort Gibson this weekend.

For many years, Memorial Day weekend had been filled with music, food vendors, reunions and celebrations at Taft's town square, then a parade on Memorial Day.

The town's 2022 celebration was marred by a midnight shooting on May 28. Sherika Bowler, 39, was killed and seven people, including children, were injured. Remaining festivities, including the annual parade were canceled.

This year, Taft will remember Bowler, as well as others who have passed on.

A memorial commemorating Bowler will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the town square, where the shooting occurred, said Taft Mayor Elsie Ceasar.

"We are not doing the food vendors or the music and stuff at night," Ceasar said. "We're not doing any of that."

Bowler had been a teacher's assistant at Muskogee Early Childhood Center.

Taft will resume its Memorial Day Parade, set for noon Monday. This year's parade will offer a time of remembrance, parade chairwoman Lelia Davis said.

"We have lost three of our parade committee members within the past year," Davis said.

They were Donald Gladney, Kassandra McGee and Alicia Craig Sourie.

"I was just asking their families to drive in the parade in honor of them," Davis said. "Anyone else who has lost a love one and gone to heaven, they're welcome to join. With a picture of someone on their car."

The Memorial Day parade has been a Taft tradition for nearly 50 years.

"It started out in 1973, we didn't have anything to do, so we just created it," Davis said. "We've had a lot of good Memorial Day activities."

The shooting in 2022 hurt the community and surrounding area, Davis said.

"It's still healing," Davis said. "I anticipate a good turnout."

Other area Memorial Day observances include the annual ceremony at Fort Gibson National Cemetery. A veteran's motorcycle group also will have an observance at the cemetery

"We're going to start the festivities at about 10 a.m., when the motorcycle groups show up," cemetery director David Van Meter said. "They have a small ceremony at the flag pole. That will last 30 to 40 minutes."

The military ceremony will be 11 a.m. at the cemetery committal shelter.

If you go

WHAT: Dedication of memorial for Sherika Bowler.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Downtown Taft.

----WHAT: Memorial Day Parade.

WHEN: Noon Monday. Lineup begins at 10:30 a.m. Monday in front of the Taft Post office.

WHERE: Downtown Taft.

----WHAT: Memorial Day observances

WHEN: 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Monday.

WHERE: Fort Gibson National Cemetery, 1423 Cemetery Road, Fort Gibson.