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Veterans Day Parade, Ceremony Slated Saturday
preview VET 11-8
It was a cooperative effort on Saturday, Nov. 4 as members of Cub Scout Pack 365, Boy Scout Troop 43, and Veterans in Action partnered with the Oakdale Citizens Cemetery to ensure that the 800 veterans laid to rest there were honored for Veterans Day with a flag placed on their grave. Scouts will also take part in the Nov. 11 events for Veterans Day, including a parade in town and a ceremony at Fish Park. Photo Contributed

The Oakdale community will once again be able to honor its veterans this Saturday, Nov. 11 with a number of activities being planned, including a parade, ceremony and lunch.

Community members Cher Bairos and Lisa Ballard, along with Jason Dillon and Patrick Mondragon have joined forces to present the Sixth Annual Veterans Day Parade to start out the day.

Line up for the event will begin promptly at 9 a.m. at the FES Hall on North Lee Avenue. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. sharp, traveling west on Pontiac Street and concluding at Fish Park. A Veterans Day ceremony will begin at the park at 11 a.m., featuring guest speakers, with a complimentary lunch of hot dogs and treats available to all in attendance following the ceremony.

“It’s on a Saturday this year, which is a good thing. Hopefully more people will be able to attend,” co-chair Bairos said.

To date a total of over 30 entries have registered to participate in the parade. Entry is free and participants are invited to sign-up right until the day of the event. Entry forms, however, must be completed online and may be accessed by sending a text to Bairos at 209-496-1134.

Spectators of the parade are encouraged to line up their chairs, blankets and show their patriotic spirit along Pontiac Street.

“We need to honor our veterans,” Bairos said, when posed with the question of why she feels it’s important to continue the event each year. “We need to pay respect to our veterans and our active military duty. We can’t lose that.”

“It’s in my heart,” Ballard shared of her ‘why’ for maintaining the event.

“I have a lot of family members that are military veterans,” she continued, noting she and her husband have always supported military causes. “We’ve always supported them, it’s just on my heart. Like Cher said, this parade is just a little token, but if we can honor them that day here in Oakdale that is what we want to do.”

The organizers mentioned the time of the year and unpredictable weather can and has affected the number of participants and attendees in past years, however they are hopeful that the Saturday observance of Veterans Day will bring a big number in for the festivities

“Seeing the veterans on the float with us. Seeing the families and just seeing people that truly care. Seeing the veterans wear their hats and their jackets,” Bairos listed of her event highlights each year. “Just seeing that they are still very much into our community and they’re still around.”

“And the smiles,” Ballard added. “Seeing the American flags being waved. The kids have the little flags and they’re waving them. To see the smiles on the veterans’ faces while people are saying thank you and waving the flags at them.”

Adding a little something special to the Veterans Day Ceremony following the parade, Bairos has compiled a list of Veteran-owned businesses to acknowledge during the program.

“We probably missed some, but people can contact us for next year if they’d like to be on the list,” Ballard said. “This was just a thing Cher put out there right away, so we do have names, but I’m sure we’ll miss some and if we do we apologize.”

Boy Scout Troop 43 will present the colors, as well as retire a flag at the end of the ceremony.

“This year is extra special to me,” Bairos shared. “I’m just thinking about both my nephews who are serving in the Army and my dad who also served. It’s a different meaning to me.”

And, she noted, the recognition is not only the right thing to do, but well deserved by those who served.

“Oakdale is a very small town, hometown and we need to keep these types of traditions alive here,” Bairos continued. “They (veterans) gave us everything they could and we need to give them just this small token for them.”