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Moving toward another 52 years

Auburn hosts Veterans Day parade

The City of Auburn will host its 52nd annual Veterans Day Parade, one of the largest in the country. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Important events often begin as an idea.

In the early 1960s in the midst of the Cold War, this country was at war in Vietnam. The war was divisive, and by the end of 1964 protests against the war began to dominate the news.

Some people in Auburn  took note, and one of them, Jim Weese, a business owner and member of the Auburn Noon Lions Club, proposed that the club host a parade to honor prior wars' veterans as well as the growing number of Vietnam veterans.

"It was an important community celebration to honor veterans," Candee Smith, the club president, wrote in an email. "Many of the Lions Club members were World War I, World War II and Korean War veterans."

In 1965, the first Auburn Veterans Day Parade took place, and since then it has grown to become one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the country.

The parade grew, and by 1980, the City of Auburn began to assume more responsibility while the Lions remained the sponsor, provided drivers for the dignitaries and hosted a luncheon after the parade.

"The parade is impressive," continued Dana Hinman, director of administration, City of Auburn, in an email. "The event is coordinated by the City of Auburn, although we have a lot of support and involvement from other organizations."

The parade route has grown to a mile long and strides through the heart of the city.

This year's parade will feature more than 6,000 participants, including at least 30 marching bands, as well as flyovers and static displays of military equipment from various periods of American history.

Military units, veteran service organizations, marching bands, honor guards, drill teams, community and scouting groups as well as floats, antique cars, community groups and other organizations take part.

Auburn is designated by the Veterans Day National Committee and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a regional site for the celebration of Veterans Day 2017.

"This parade, for the 52nd year, honors all of our veterans," continued Smith. "The Auburn Noon Lions honors its commitment to veterans to this day."

Jim Weese would agree.

In a nod to history, the parade will begin Saturday at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in downtown Auburn on Main Street.  For more information, visit auburnwa.gov.

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