Veterans Day parade to return to Pocatello after 80 yearsPublished at | Updated at
POCATELLO – After an 80 year hiatus, the Pocatello Veterans Day Parade will be returning on Saturday, November 12.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the parade committee have been working more than five months to bring it back. Though it had a few bumps in the beginning, committee members are determined to make sure veterans in the community are honored for their service, and to give the public a chance to get to know them.
Longtime VFW member Chester Avery recently moved to Pocatello from Utah and started inquiring about the Veterans Day Parade. No one knew when the last one was held, and through exhaustive research, he learned it was in the 1940s.
Another one was scheduled the following year, but it never happened. Morale was low at the time because of the war and a recession.
The parade committee tried to revive it in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented it from happening.
Planning a parade this year hasn’t been easy. One reason is because of the small amount of active-duty personnel in the area. The closest military base is Hill Air Force base in Utah or Mountain Home Air Force base near Boise. But both are around 200 miles away.
And among the veterans who do live in the area, committee members are getting mixed reactions. They’ve noticed many veterans felt ignored or criticized when they came home. Some lost friends, and they didn’t have access to medical resources.
Organizer Richard Hollingsworth points out that some veterans aren’t proud of their service and don’t want the recognition. There was a lot of killing and pain during wartime, and that caused them to experience shame and even survivor’s guilt.
But as committee member Heidi Young says, that’s all the more reason to hold an event where the community can recognize them.
“(The parade) will be amazing for veterans to see the community come out and show them that they really do appreciate what they do for us,” Young says.
Hollingsworth recalls an interaction with one veteran who was moved by the idea of having a parade.
“He is over 80 years of age and has stage four cancer. I was at his home and told him about the Veterans Day Parade. He literally broke down sobbing and said, ‘I want to be there for the parade,'” says Hollingsworth.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m. on South 1st Street in downtown Pocatello. It will head east on East Center Street to 15th Street and turn right on East Oak Street. From there, it will continue south, ending in the east-side parking lot of Reed Gym.
It will begin with a Blackhawk helicopter and A-10 Warthog flyover. Paul Anderson will provide commentary as the floats pass by Caldwell Park.
To volunteer or submit a float, call (208) 221-0077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The entry deadline is Oct. 22.