Event celebrates 100th anniversary

 Updated 4:23 p.m. Nov. 8, 2019, with corrected information about additional events.

The annual Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade will take place Monday in downtown Leavenworth. And this year marks the event’s 100th anniversary.

“It’s going to be a great observance,” said Diane Smith, secretary of the Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade Committee.

The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The parade will follow its usual route, beginning at Fourth and Cherokee streets. The parade will travel east on Cherokee and then north on Esplanade Street. The parade will turn west on Delaware Street and then south on Seventh Street. The parade then will travel east on Cherokee Street, ending at Fifth and Cherokee streets.

Organizers of the parade say it is one of the oldest Veterans Day observances in the nation and the largest parade west of the Mississippi River.

The tradition of the Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade was launched Nov. 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting of World War I. This first observance took place before the holiday was officially called Veterans Day, according to a website for the Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade.

The theme for this year’s parade is “100 Years of Honoring Our Veterans.”

Grand marshals for this year’s parade are retired Sgt. 1st Class James L. King, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and Purple Heart recipient, and retired Lt. Col. Crystal Swann Blackdeer, a U.S. Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Patricia Riner, who died earlier this year, was named an honorary grand marshal. Riner was an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War and a longtime member of the Parade Committee.

This year’s parade chairman is Edward Gunnels.

Smith said there are 185 committed parade entries, which is more than usual.

“We’re hoping this will be one of the best parades we’ve put on to date,” she said.

Before assembling for the parade, participants are asked to check in at the parade information booth, which will be located in the west parking lot of the Leavenworth Public Library. Participants will receive information about their location for the parade lineup.

Participants are asked to begin assembling after 9 a.m.

Because the event is celebrating its 100th anniversary, food vendors will be set up along the parade route this year.

There will be live musical performances before the start of the parade. The Bill Welch Band will perform in the area of Exchange Bank, 630 Delaware St. Retired Staff Sgt. Ric Jackson will perform in the area of Fourth and Cherokee streets, and the Cody Choraliers will be performing near the Riverfront Community Center, 123 S. Esplanade St. The musical performances will begin at 9 a.m.

A Lansing High School student, Alyssa Wiegers, will sing the national anthem around the time of the start of the parade at the reviewing stand, which will be located at Seventh and Delaware streets.

Masters of ceremonies will be set up at Fourth and Cherokee streets, the Riverfront Community Center, the 400 block of Delaware Street, the reviewing stand and Haymarket Square.

Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers, who will be participating in the parade, will read a proclamation from Gov. Laura Kelly when the lieutenant governor arrives at the reviewing stand.

A proclamation from President Donald Trump will be read by a master of ceremony before the start of the parade.

At 11 a.m., the parade will pause for the playing of taps by buglers stationed throughout the parade route. A flyover featuring A-10s from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri is scheduled for 11:05 a.m.

“We’re expecting a big turnout,” Smith said.

The National Weather Service is predicting a high temperature of 29 degrees Monday in Leavenworth.

Smith said cold temperatures will not result in the cancellation of the parade.

“We’re still going to have a parade,” she said.

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