Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor
Families camped out on the sidewalks in Albany with hot chocolate and puffy coats in what was the 72nd annual Veterans Day Parade, an event that locals claim to be the biggest parade west of the Mississippi. Technically, Albany’s Veterans Day Parade used to be the biggest parade west of the Mississippi, but Los Angeles holds that title now. “Per capita, Albany is much larger,” said Christine Ferguson, the Linn County Oregon Veterans Day Parade Committee president.
Still, the 2023 parade was expected to host thousands of people, both in the parade and on the sidelines. Spectators lined up for blocks to observe the parade despite the chilly November morning air. In the past, the parade has racked up over 45,000 spectators. Ferguson is hoping for a similar turnout. The parade consisted of 160 units, besides the motorcycles, and was projected to last around three hours.
“We have everything — from dads pulling their kids in wagons, classic cars, we have military units, we have high school units, equestrian units, we have businesses,” stated Ferguson. “There’s all different kinds of people. That’s what’s so great about it.”
Ferguson brought in food trucks, bleachers, additional trash cans and porta potties to kick off the traditional Veterans Day parade in addition to handling all sponsorships and paperwork.
The parade, as tradition goes, begins with hundreds of motorcycles revving and riding down the streets of Albany, followed by floats, clubs, school teams and so on. War tankards clunk down the streets as well as antique cars — some of which carry local Veterans to be celebrated in their hometown.
Banners decked out in memorabilia to Veterans dangle from street lights — put up weeks before the parade. Local businesses offered hot chocolate, steaming cider and donuts to the crowds, many of which decorated their shops in tandem with the parade.
Ferguson went on to explain that the parade is open to everyone. “If you wanna pull your kid in a wagon and be in the parade, you’re welcome to. If you have a classic car you want to drive in the parade, you’re welcome. If you have a fire engine, an old military vehicle — all of it, it’s welcome.”
“All of us are honoring those who fought for us,” said Ferguson. “We all have the same gratitude for the life we get to live. And none of it is political. None of it is religious, it’s just a whole community coming together.”
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