Pandemic and cold weather aside, the people who put together a smaller number of Douglas County Veterans Day Parade entries this year were rewarded by a warm welcome from spectators driving through.
The parade at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Wednesday was held in reverse, with spectators driving through and floats remaining stationary.
There were close to 30 entries this year, but traffic was heavy as a long line of supporters filed through the route.
The entries this year ranged from a mobile army surgical hospital tent set up complete with a dummy surgical patient, put on by The Spirit of Aviation Chapter 495 and EEA Young Eagles, to a group of sign-bearing suffragettes from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Steve Kame is a U.S. Navy, Army National Guard and Air National Guard veteran who served as an electronics technician and infantryman. He was part of the MASH tent entry.
“The theme of this Veterans Day Parade is military medicine. So we’re setting up a military operating room,” Kame said.
Kame said The Spirit of Aviation is all about flying planes.
“If you can afford golf, if you can afford a second car, you can afford to go flying,” he said.
Kame said the reverse parade is “making the best out of a bad situation.”
Lorne Merrifield of the Douglas County Mounted Posse was, like the rest of the posse, without a horse this year. The group’s float did have some hay and a couple of saddles, though.
“It’s a lot less preparation as far as getting a horse ready, but we didn’t think a horse would want to stand here for three hours. Everything’s different this year, we’re just going with the flow,” Merrifield said.
Army National Guard Spc. Chris Jewell is an Afghanistan veteran who serves with Charlie Company. He has also served in Djibouti and Kenya and had his studies at Umpqua Community College paid for by the Guard.
“The Guard’s been amazing to me. It helped me see the world,” he said.
He wasn’t fazed by the changes to this year’s parade, saying if there’s anything the National Guard knows how to do it’s adapt to changing circumstances.
“This parade’s awesome. Even during a tough time of COVID, the community’s still coming together. That’s what I love about this community so much,” he said.
Cpl. Daniel Harris, a recruiter for the Army National Guard, is an Afghanistan veteran who served in Charlie Company and later reenlisted to become a recruiter.
He said he’d never heard of a drive-thru parade before.
“To see the community still show that they care about us, it’s a big deal. So I really appreciate it,” he said.