The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Veterans Day Parade planned for Friday

  • For the 92nd time, Leavenworth County will host the oldest and one of the largest Veterans Day parades west of the Mississippi River.


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  • For the 92nd time, Leavenworth County will host the oldest and one of the largest Veterans Day parades west of the Mississippi River.
    James Rodgers, chairman of the Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade Committee this year and representative of the host organization Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 55, said the committee tends to work on the event for the better part of a year, starting with an “after-action” report and the naming of the new parade chairman only two weeks after the previous year’s parade.
    “It takes a lot of people doing a lot of different things,” to make the parade a success each year, Rodgers said.
    The theme for the parade this year is “America — Thanks to Veterans,” and to celebrate organizers said they have invited several special guests for the parade, including the grand marshal, retired Brig. Gen. Stan Cherrie of Leavenworth; the man that parade organizers have identified as the county’s oldest living World War II veteran, Larry Land; and Grave Uhart, a member of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.
    Soldiers from Fort Riley’s Wounded Warrior Transition Unit will also be on the “Returning Hero” float along with other retired and active duty military members and veterans from a number of generations will also be marching.
    Participants in the parade are asked to line up at 9 a.m. Friday. There will be no staging on Fourth Street before that time and no vendors in the staging areas. The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. with bagpipers led by Dale Clelland and the 15th Military Police Brigade Color Guard from Fort Leavenworth.
    Behind those leaders, Rodgers said the 92-year-old tradition of Leavenworth County as one of the largest regional observances will follow.
    “Thursday night, when we finished going over the line up, we had 196 entries,” Rodgers said. “That’s a lot of entries.”
    They will include representatives from the various area school bands, members of area JROTC programs, the Abdullah Shrine, local, state and federal politicans, members of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, Tuskegee Airmen, Boy and Girl Scout troops, a Vietnam War-era helicopter, police and firefighters from around the region, motorcycle and antique car groups and fraternal and service organizations, among others.
    One special float will be that of the MacNamara Moore American Legion Post 61 in Ida Grove, Iowa, which will include a reproduction of the American flag raised Feb. 23, 1945 at Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima.
    At 11 a.m., the parade will stop for the playing of taps and a flyover from the Iowa Air National Guard.
    The parade will begin at Fourth and Cherokee Street before it heads east to Esplanade, then north to Delaware, west to Seventh Street, south to Cherokee Street and east on Cherokee to Fifth Street, where the parade will disband.
    Page 2 of 2 - Rodgers said parade floats will be judged and first, second and third place will receive monetary awards. They will be judged on whether they incorporate the theme, “America — Thanks to Veterans,” in either the front, back or both sides, as well as on originality, creativity and patriotism.
    According to information from the parade committee, emcees located along the parade route will be Mike Howell at Fourth and Cherokee, Bill Wallace in the 300 block of Delaware and Dan Wiley at Seventh and Delaware streets. Prior to the parade, balloons will be distrubuted by area scouts and the Ric Jackson Trio and 91-year-old Navy veteran John Westphling will perform music at Seventh and Delaware streets and in front of the Riverfront Community Center, respectively.
    The parade committee will be providing bleachers for seating during the parade in the 300 block of Cherokee and the 400, 500, 600 and 700 blocks of Delaware.
    Portable restrooms will be located in the 300 and 500 blocks of Delaware.
    It may take a lot of work to coordinate, but having been involved for about a decade now, Rodgers agreed that Leavenworth County is a unique and appropriate spot for a parade of this size, being home to about 9,000 military veterans, according to one recent estimate.
    “When I got ready to retire, I thought about a couple of other places. My wife is from here and she wanted to come here, but that’s wasn’t the main reason,” that he returned after being stationed here in the 1960s, he said. “This is just a nice community.”
    For more information on the parade, visit lvvetsparade.com.
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