Best Parade - 2000
Often overlooked and woefully underattended, the Veterans Day Parade, held downtown on the closest Saturday before Veterans Day, has lots of color and action, plus free chili, coffee, soda and doughnuts. More than 100 units of active and retired military pass muster at the reviewing stand -- from the spit 'n' polish airmen of Scott AFB; to the "Cho Sin Few," a Marine contingent named after a fierce battle waged near the Cho Sin Reservoir in Korea; to a platoon of wheelchair-bound vets, the Gateway Paralyzed Veterans; to the Viet Nam Veterans Motorcycle Club, roaring up Market Street in front of City Hall, every one astride a Harley, the gnarliest of the lot in the fore, looking like a yuppie's worst nightmare. There are static displays of helicopters, armaments and, last year, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. It is an unabashed patriotic celebration and always a great photo op. Ralph Wiechert, director of the Soldiers Memorial and chief parade organizer, says that his goal has been to make the event a true military parade and to generate more appreciation for American veterans. We think he's doing a bang-up job. Where else besides the perilous front can you stand and watch the 3rd Battalion 24th Marines come marching by in full regalia?