While it may be smaller this year, the Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in downtown Leavenworth.
Organizers of the parade boast that it is one of the oldest Veterans Day observances in the country and the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi River.
This will be the 101st year of the parade. The theme this year is "Second Century of Honoring Our Veterans."
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 parade is a designated by the Veterans Day National Committee as a regional site for Veterans Day observances, according to the website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Leavenworth is the only location in Kansas to receive this designation in 2020.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the parade will have fewer entries this year.
Becky Johnson, secretary of the Leavenworth County Veterans Day Committee, said there are about 105 entries signed up for this year’s parade. She said this is a little more than half of the usual number of entries.
Members of the Parade Committee are encouraging participants as well as people who come out to watch the parade to practice social distancing when possible and wear masks if they will be in close proximity to others.
The parade will follow its normal route in the downtown area. It will start at Fourth and Cherokee streets and travel east. The parade then will travel north on Esplanade Street before turning west on Delaware Street. The parade then will turn south on Seventh Street and then east on Cherokee Street. The parade will end at Fifth and Cherokee streets.
Johnson said country music artist Matt Snook will sing the national anthem at the start of the parade at Fourth and Cherokee streets. Snook previously was a contestant on the television show "The Voice."
At 11 a.m., the parade will pause for the playing of taps, which will be performed by buglers positioned at different locations along the parade route.
Retired Army Maj. John Reichley and retired Navy Master Chief Gary Raby are the grand marshals for this year’s parade. Reichley, who is a Vietnam War veteran, is a columnist for the Leavenworth Times.
Retired Army Master Sgt. David Royer has been named an honorary grand marshal. Royer is credited with stopping an active shooter on the Centennial Bridge earlier this year in Leavenworth.
People who cannot make it out Wednesday to see the parade can view it live on the city of Leavenworth’s Facebook page. The parade will be live-streamed at www.facebook.com/CityofLeavenworthKS.