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Albany holds 'reverse parade' for Veterans Day

People drove up to floats and displays showcased at various locations throughout the city of Albany.

ALBANY, Ore. — The day began with a ceremony at Timber Linn Memorial Park. A crowd gathered to honor veterans. The appreciation was accompanied by an F-15 flyover as well as artillery being fired.

However, because of the pandemic, the parade portion was a little different. McCall Washburn is the co-chair for the Veterans Day parade. Washburn said this is the second year in a row that they’ve held what they’re calling a reverse parade.

“We decided to do a reverse format so people could be safe in their cars, and the floats are outside so we're not worried about people being indoors and not worried about big groups of people,” said Washburn.

Last year, Washburn said the parade was held in the Mid-Willamette Family YMCA parking lot, but that resulted in long wait times for cars to get in and out. This year, she said floats and displays are scattered across the City of Albany to not only prevent a backlog of cars at one place, but also to give people a chance to see the city.

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Cars drove through 10 locations across in Albany. Washburn said the main places for the majority of the floats and displays were at the Mid-Willamette Family YMCA, West Albany High School, Linn County Expo Center, and Albany City Hall. According to Washburn, there were other community businesses that also had displays up for cars to drive by. People participating in the reverse parade were excited to see the displays.

Credit: Christine Pitawanich/KGW
Cars driving through Linn County Expo Center parking lot

“Every year we've gone to the parade and this is nice that we're able to do this. We appreciate everyone putting this together,” said Robin Whitney, a Millersburg resident.

“What I like about it is when I see the other veterans,” said Whitney’s husband, Charles who is also a Marine veteran. “Just going up and shaking their hands and seeing them smile and they light up because they appreciate being recognized.”

At the Mid-Willamette Valley Family YMCA, Grand Marshal David Russell was one of the many veterans being honored.

Credit: Christine Pitawanich/KGW
Parade Grand Marshal and veteran David Russell

“I'm 101 years old and during World War II. I served on the battleship Oklahoma,” Russell said.

The USS Oklahoma was bombed at Pearl Harbor in 1941. For Russell, who served in the Navy for 20 years, being Grand Marshal was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I love the kids when they're waving at me they're so cute. But everybody waves at me when they go by,” said Russell.

When asked what organizers how veterans take away from the event, Washburn teared up.

“How much we love ‘em. Their service means everything to us, their sacrifice, their courage,” said Washburn.

“We wanted to keep the honor, the respect, the thanks the same even though the parade looked a little different.”

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Washburn said next year they plan to go back to holding the biggest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi.

The parade website lists the event as the third-largest Veterans Day parade in the nation.

Washburn said planning for next year's parade will start in January.