ENID, Okla. — Organizers have increased the size of this year's Veterans Day Parade, set for 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Enid.

Bill Cooley, with Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 940, said Vietnam Veterans and Blue Star Mothers Oklahoma Chapter 11 put on the parade each year to honor veterans, first responders and their many sacrifices.

Cooley said registrations have been up for participants this year, and he's expecting about a 16-block parade of veterans, first responders, local businesses, civic clubs and representatives from Vance Air Force Base.

The parade will begin with a benediction by pastor Bobby Hall of Christ Community Church and the national anthem.

Enid police and fire departments, Life EMS and county volunteer fire departments will have vehicles in the parade, along with motorcyclists from Downed Bikers Association, AmVets Riders, American Legion, VFW, Enid Moose Lodge and Enid Elks Lodge.

Other veterans' groups, including Disabled American Veterans, Oklahoma Wounded Veterans Association and Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park also will be represented in the parade.

The 71st Student Training Unified Squadron, Vance Family Services and Vance Fire Department from Vance Air Force Base also have signed on for the parade, Cooley said.

Corvette Club of Enid will be joined by classic and homebuilt cars, tractors and equipment from P&K Equipment, Enid Shrine Club, Helena Lions Club train and new vehicles loaned to parade organizers from Northcutt Chevrolet-Buick, Jacksons of Enid and Stevens Ford.

The Enid High School Big Blue Band, EHS Junior ROTC, Adams Elementary School Drum Club, Enid Twirling Academy, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and numerous independent floats and vehicles also will be in the parade, Cooley said.

Individual veterans are invited to participate, and will march in the parade as a group. If they're unable to walk the parade route, Cooley said there will be room in cars, pickups, floats or on a handicap-accessible trailer so all veterans can participate in the parade.

"We just urge every veteran who has served our country to come out and participate in the parade," Cooley said. "Anyone who wants to get in it, we'll get you in the parade one way or another."

Veterans who want to participate in the parade should meet in the parking lot west of Stride Bank Center, at Independence and Oklahoma, at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Volunteers still are needed to help stage the parade. Anyone willing to help can call Bill Cooley at (580) 231-7964.

But, most of all, Cooley hopes the public will come out to watch the parade and honor area veterans.

"To go out as a veteran, and walk or ride around in the parade, and see no one there to appreciate you ... it kind of rips at your heart," Cooley said. "It's disheartening for the veterans and the first responders who put their lives on the line every day to not be appreciated for it."

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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