Syracuse watchfire returns to fairgrounds after three year hiatus

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — At dusk, on May 28, the three year hiatus on the Memorial Day weekend watchfire will end, and the fairgrounds will be lit once again.

From 2020 through 2022, the watchfire had to be cancelled, the first two years were because of Covid, and last year was because of a lack in memberships with the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).

But this year, the CNY Veterans Recognition Foundation (CNYVRF) at the NYS Fairgrounds will be hosting the watchfire once more. If you haven’t seen already, the piling of wood has begun.

As a way to honor U.S. soldiers and veterans, the watchfire attracts many throughout Central New York to come and be a part of the patriotic ceremony.

“…with over 1,000 American flags expected to be appropriately retired in a spectacular and dignified fashion,” said the CNYVRF’s website.

The watchfire will be held on Sunday, May 28 at 5:00 p.m. in the fairgrounds Brown Parking Lot. The fire will not begin until dusk.

They need volunteers from Thursday, May 25, through Sunday, May 28.

If you’re looking to volunteer for the event, you can SIGN UP HERE.

How do you donate flags?

There’s multiple ways to donate. If you’re looking specifically to donate to the watchfire you can place your flag onto the pile of wood and other respectfully discarded flags up until they light them up on May 28.

If that’s not your cup of tea, there are a few local spots you can drop them off:

  • American Legion’s
  • VFW’s
  • Boy or Girl Scout organizations

Other ways to retire an old flag:

  • Bury the flag
  • Shredding techniques
  • Replace the worn out flag

You can read the full list and instructions HERE.

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