Two years ago, the inaugural Veterans Day Parade here was relatively small, but that didn’t detract from the importance of the event designed for reflection and celebration of those who have served in the United States armed forces.
The event was held again last year at Meadowmere Park, and drew a bigger crowd, said Kathleen Thompson, who comes from a military family and was a primary organizer of the event from Day One.
But from the beginning, Thompson hoped to stage the venue in downtown Grapevine, site of the annual Main Street Days and GrapeFest.
Her dream will be realized on Nov. 8 when the event will be held from 9-10 a.m. on Main Street. It will start at the crossroad of Wall Street and go south to Hudgins Street.
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“We have more than 25 entrant groups,” Thompson said, adding that “we are growing every year.”
She said the move to downtown was no small feat because the high-profile venue necessitates barricading several blocks along the route that is popular with locals and tourists.
“We had to earn our place on Main Street,” Thompson said.
In addition to the location, new this year is the participation of Purple Heart recipients “who were combat wounded veterans,” Thompson said.
The Grapevine Fire Department Honor Guard, which has been with the event since the beginning, will lead the procession.
Thompson said the parade was created to honor U.S. veterans and their military service to our country.
“Each participant is saying ‘thank you’ to our active duty and retired service members,” she said. “That's what this entire event is about — my family and all these Grapevine neighbors showing our gratitude and appreciation.”
Jon Lunkwicz, an Army veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart, has been a fan of the parade since its inception.
He lauded efforts thank “those serving in uniform, and those who have served . . . to show the world, that we remember those who were lost, and thank those who have returned.”
“I have been to war, and been wounded and seen close friends die,” he said. “It lifts my spirits to know that our city will honor veterans, and thank them for their service.”
The Grapevine Fire Department Honor Guard, which has been with us each year, will lead off the parade.
Parade participants also include VFW Post 10454; the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 1513, and Grapevine Elks Lodge 2483. Local elected officials include representatives of the Grapevine Colleyville school district board of trustees and Grapevine City Council.
“We’ll have hundreds of small American flags to pass out to the kiddos waving from the sidewalks,” Thompson said, adding that the city’s Parks & Recreation Department is a key component in putting on the event.
Veterans Day, held annually on Nov. 11, is an official U.S. holiday that honors people who have served in the Armed Forces.
“This patriotic event gives people the opportunity to thank a soldier and to experience the strength of our community,” Thompson said.
She conceived of the idea because of her family’s military connection: her grandfather served in the Air Force, her father in the Navy, and two uncles in the Marines and the Army.
“The importance of the military was not lost on me,” Thompson said. “I understood what the military meant to me at a young age. It was meaningful to see it all come together. We should all be saying thank you and this is our way to say thanks.”