Downtown Bend was alive Thursday morning for an unofficial Veterans Day parade.
“It almost makes you cry, because they’re there supporting us,” said Bill Gabriel, a Marine Corps veteran.
More than one hundred Central Oregonians and veterans gathered on Harmon Boulevard to march in a community-planned, but unofficial veterans day parade.
American flags flew, veterans wore their uniforms and red white and blue, and passing cars showed their support by honking at the crowd.
This impromptu celebration was created after the cancellation of the annual veterans day parade due to COVID concerns.
“We started doing these parades on Veterans Day in 1986, and we’ve had one every year and this year wasn’t going to be any different,” said Mark Wirges, a Marine veteran and the unofficial parade organizer.
“Oh no, this parade ain’t canceled,” Gabriel said.
With that declaration, the unofficial parade was created.
“We weren’t sure how many people were going to show up. We weren’t sure how many of our guys were going to show up,” Gabriel said.
More official events were held across Central Oregon with the streets lined with people showing their appreciation for our service members.
Folks showed up and on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the parade began.
Trucks, cars, and even the bend famous “Rock Box” party bus gave parade-goers a lift around Drake Park.
For the veterans who helped lead the festivities, this celebration meant the world to them.
“You know this community is the most giving and the most patriotic ever,” Wirges said.