Veteran’s Day Parade returns Saturday; community asked to bring photos, keepsakes of veterans

November 7, 2023 | 12:08 am

Updated November 6, 2023 | 10:42 pm

File photo

The annual Veteran’s Day Parade returns to the Owensboro riverfront at 2 p.m. this Saturday. The community is asked to bring photos or other memorabilia of veterans in their families to showcase as the floats pass by.

The route begins on 2nd Street, heads down Daviess Street before turning on Veterans Boulevard, and ends at VFW Post 696. 

Organizer Jessie Hettinger said the parade dates back over 105 years, earning the organization an award from the Veteran’s Affairs in Washington, D.C. Hettinger comes from a family full of veterans and has been at the helm of the parade for 5 years. 

“The parade allows us to remember all veterans and to let them know we care about them and appreciate the sacrifices they made for our country,” Hettinger said. “Over the last 2 years, we have lost over 500 Veterans in Owensboro and Daviess County. We must thank them and their families and the many still in our area.” 

James Wiimsatt — a 105-year-old Veteran — will serve as this year’s grand marshall. His son is chauffeuring him in a truck with magnets, paying homage to every veteran Wimsatt lives with at his nursing home. 

Hettinger took that idea and ran with it – asking everyone in attendance to bring a photo or a keepsake of a veteran they cherish and hold it in the air as the parade passes. 

Last year’s theme was to honor veterans currently serving as first responders. To return the favor, those first responders are eager to participate in this year’s parade, including the Owensboro Police Department’s color guard, several fire stations, and more.

Hettinger expects local high school ROTCs and marching bands, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Post 75, Post 19, the American Legion, the VFW, and several jeeps, classic cars, and bikes to participate. 

She added that another critical component is the iconic train and wheels, a staple at the former American Legion on the river. 

“This year’s parade will also feature soldiers and veterans from Fort Campbell,” she said. “We became close with several of them when they came in for my uncle’s funeral, and it’s been a blessing.”

Floats and participants will line up at 1 p.m. at the intersection of 2nd and Clay streets. 

Based on the volume of phone calls and registered participants, Hettinger expects this year to be one of the largest ever. 

“All veterans have one thing in common — they went to war and did their job. Some came home, and some didn’t,” Hettinger said. “We don’t know what they’re battling or what they experienced, and this parade is just a small gesture to extend our gratitude.”

November 7, 2023 | 12:08 am

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