VA parade to honor veterans Monday

A few members of the parade task force talk about the first Veterans Day Parade at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System at 10 a.m. Monday. From left to right are Maridith Hearnley, assistant chief fiscal officer; Melissa Spady, acting public affairs officer; and Lori Jones, executive assistant to the director.

DANVILLE — Marching bands, antique cars, veterans’ groups and school children will parade Monday through the grounds of the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.

The first Veterans Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the VA’s Danville campus.

“We’re in the veteran business,” said Melissa Spady, acting public affairs officer. “We honor and celebrate them every day, but especially Veterans Day. We want to show how much we honor and respect them.”

“It’s going to be wonderful,” said Lori Jones, executive assistant to the director and a member of the planning committee. “For me, this is a great honor to put a parade together for fellow veterans.”

Jones and her husband, David, are Desert Storm veterans, and were involved in construction of the Middle East Conflict Memorial on Hazel Street.

As of earlier this week, more than 25 groups had agreed to participate in the parade — the first in recent memory.

“The response and excitement (about a parade) was overwhelming,” Spady said. “This is a huge veteran-centric community. It’s going to be big.”

The idea came up a couple of months ago when Spady and Director Shawn Bransky were discussing upcoming events. Bransky, who came to Danville in May, asked what was being done on Veterans Day, and then suggested the parade.

Spady and a task force began working out the details.

The parade will start at 10 a.m. on the frontage road that leads past the veterans’ village. It then will merge onto the main road past Building 98, past Buildings 101 and 102, past the gazebo and out toward Main Street.

More than 100 veterans live on campus, and will have a chance to see the parade, Spady said.

Spectators are encouraged to park in the Danville Area Community College Bremer Center parking lot. There also will be signs marking the parade route and parking areas at the VA.

Hot chocolate will be served at the historic gazebo, on the edge of the DACC parking lot, and the Danville Barbershop Chorus’ Four on the Floor will perform there from 9:30-10 a.m.

“We’re bringing a little bit of history into modern times,” Spady said, referring to the gazebo which once was the site of historic visits by celebrities and political figures.

People should bring lawn chairs, blankets and warm clothing, as they watch the parade participants make the 1 ½-mile loop through campus.

The Danville Police Honor Guard will lead the parade, along with the Charles Forrest American Legion Post 288 Honor Guard from Veedersburg, Ind.

Other participants include several local fire departments, Patriot Riders, Lincoln’s Challenge cadets and honor guard, fair queens, Corvette Cruisers, Iliana Antique Auto Club, Danville High School marching band and much more.

About 400 students from area schools will be present.

Large American flags will line the main drive.

At 11 a.m., veterans will be treated to an appearance by Doug Church, an Elvis impersonator. This is not open to the public.

The local VA is beginning its 121st year of service to veterans.

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