Veterans Day Parade planned Saturday in West Richland

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldNovember 9, 2012 

Organizers of the annual West Richland Veterans Day Parade can't guarantee 76 trombones marching down Van Giesen Street on Saturday, but there will be bands -- lots of them.

"The number of bands is what makes our parade stand out. We'll have all the high schools, middle and elementary bands. We really appreciate them turning out," said parade Chairman Troy Berglund. He's also past president of the West Richland Area Chamber of Commerce board which sponsors the annual parade.

"Typically," he said, "we have about 100 entries and it looks like we'll have that many this year."

There will be lots of marching groups like the Young Marines, Combat Veterans International, Boy and Cub Scouts and cheer and dance teams. The car clubs turn out and there will be military vehicles and equestrian groups.

The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. and travels east along Van Giesen Street, beginning at Grosscup Road and ending at the City Hall on 38th Avenue.

It typically lasts about an hour. There will be announcers at Flat Top Park giving background on each group as it passes by. There's also bleachers there so the park is a good vantage point, Berglund said.

There is no single grand marshal this year. Instead, the chamber is honoring the Benton Rural Electric Association.

The REA, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, was chosen in part because the parade was the brainchild of a former REA employee, Bruce Etzel.

"In 2000, when Etzel was president of the chamber he came up with the idea of a Veterans Day Parade. Back then there wasn't another anywhere in the region," said Berglund, who's also community development and member relations manager for the REA.

Since then an REA employee has been the parade chairman every year and REA employees volunteer each year to help set up and organize it.

The parade is a designated U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional site, one of the few in the state, he said.

"This is the fifth year West Richland has been one of the designated sites and we consider it a big honor. It makes our veterans parade unique," Berglund said.

Right afterward the Combat Veterans International will have a chili feed at Flat Top Park.

Anyone who would like to assist with the parade is welcome to volunteer. Call 967-0521.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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