November 9, 2021 - 2:08 pm
The Veterans Day parade in Las Vegas was faltering due to lack of organization in 1994. But as officials were ready to cancel it, a small group of veterans stepped in with just 10 days remaining and pulled it off.
Every Nov. 11 since, the Veterans Action Group has organized the mile procession in downtown Las Vegas, which it touts as the “largest parade west of the Mississippi” honoring U.S. military veterans.
The parade, a decadeslong tradition making a return in 2021 following its pandemic-related cancellation last year, is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Thursday. Floats, other vehicles and marchers will travel north on Fourth Street, starting at Gass Avenue and ending at Stewart Avenue.
While the 1994 parade was coordinated with very short notice, the modern version is the culmination of 11 months of work, said Jerry Adams, president of the nonprofit and one of the veterans who helped organize that first event 27 years ago.
But for him, the work is well worth it, as long as the community honors veterans.
“When you’re a veteran and you’re riding down that parade and people are yelling, ‘Thank you for your service!,’ it’s very heartwarming,” he said.
Adams said that he hoped the parade also is a teaching moment for younger generations about the sacrifices made by service members and their families in times of war.
Thursday’s parade will feature a four-plane flyover, with one of them set to “peel off” and fly over Allegiant Stadium, Adams said.
Additionally, Veterans Action Group, which gained its nonprofit status in 2014, will hand out 10,000 American flags that will wave as 120 groups march or drive the route, including groups of veterans, ROTC units and high school bands.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada will offer free rides to and from the event to veterans who want to attend, and show proof of their military service, Adams said.
For Adams and the other five former military members who serve on the group’s board, none of whom “takes a penny” for their work, putting together the parade with other community volunteers is a labor of pride.
“It’s a great parade,” Adams said. “It’s a good parade to respect and honor veterans.”