Up to 45,000 folks will watch Saturday's 17th annual Veterans Day Parade to celebrate a bevy of military anniversaries.
With its theme of "Celebrating Military Milestones," birthdays feature the Army's 100 years of its Colorado Springs-based 4th Infantry Division, 75 years of Navy Seabees, 70 years of the U.S. Air Force, 170 years since the Battle of Chapultepec, which inspired the U.S. Marines Corps' official "Marines' Hymn," 227 years of the U.S. Coast Guard and 100 years since the country entered World War I.
"It's to honor people who are serving in active duty and people who have sacrificed so much of their lives and are now veterans," said Lonny L.J. Barrett, executive assistant for the parade. "It's to remember and honor these people who have given so much of themselves selflessly to protect this country."
The parade will begin at Boulder and Tejon streets, travel south on Tejon and end at Vermijo Avenue. Parking is available in city garages.
Four military bases, including Peterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy, have spawned a large active-duty presence in Colorado Springs, as well as a thriving veteran population. In 2000, a small group of patriotic volunteers decided to put together the city's first Veterans Day Parade to honor those folks and educate and inspire the community. It's now considered one of the biggest parades of its kind in the country.
This year's event will feature more than 90 parade entries and nearly 4,000 participants, most from veterans organizations and groups that support vets.
Maj. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, deputy commander of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson, and Col. Ronald P. Fitch Jr., garrison commander at Fort Carson, will be grand marshals.
"It's primarily an Air Force and Army town," said Barrett. "It being the 100th anniversary of the 4th Infantry Division and the 70th birthday of the Air Force, we figured we'd honor those two significant events."
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM