An annual Owensboro tradition, the Veterans Day Parade returns to the riverfront this Saturday and will feature an assortment of floats, police cars, fire trucks, motorcycles, and more.
Parade participants will line up at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Second and Clay Streets. The parade will begin at 2 p.m. and venture down parts of 2nd Street and Veterans Boulevard.
Parade organizer Jessie Hettinger said she’s looking forward to returning a sense of normalcy to the event following the pandemic.
“Since COVID, we haven’t had a large turnout, but this year we’re going to be overloaded,” she said. “We placed a primary emphasis on thanking our first responders, and we will have several from the Owensboro Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department, and EMT services in the parade.”
Other participants include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, classic cars, and the Marine Corps. Hettinger added that local scout troops, marching bands, and ROTCs from local schools are also in the lineup.
The city trolley will also be in the parade, decorated with a banner reading, “Welcome home, Vietnam Veterans!” Hettinger said Mayor Tom Watson inspired her to feature the trolley, citing the unpleasant welcome home many Vietnam veterans encountered when they initially returned from war.
Hettinger has been organizing the event for several years, but she said this year’s event carries even more significance.
“My Uncle Robert Wright was a private in the Korean War and had been Missing in Action (MIA) for 72 years,” she said. “They found (his remains), and he will return home soon.”
Following the event, the VFW will have free soup for anyone wishing to attend, while the American Legion welcomes veterans for a free meal after the parade.
“We just want to thank our veterans for what they’ve done and the sacrifice they’ve made,” Hettinger said. “We have people coming from out of town to participate, and we’re just glad we can have something upbeat as we return from COVID.”