Regional Veterans Day Parade at Chaffee Crossing
Determined Not Feasible for 2020
FORT SMITH, Ark. (September 4, 2020) – The Western Arkansas Veterans Coalition and Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority officials have determined that it is not in the best interest of area veterans, volunteers and spectators to host the 2020 Regional Veterans Day Parade in the Chaffee Crossing Historic District. The ninth annual parade was scheduled for Saturday, November 8 but is now officially canceled.
Western Arkansas Veterans Coalition (WAVC) Veterans Day Parade Committee Chairman Army Specialist and Combat Veteran Tanya Taylor says the WAVC officers took their time and weighed the risks heavily before coming to the conclusion that the parade needs to be canceled due to the current global pandemic. She says their first consideration was “the veterans because many of them volunteer to help organize the parade and participate in the parade in spite of health challenges. We just could not see putting them at risk. We were also concerned about people not being able to social distance on floats or spectators standing too close together on the parade route. It was our consensus that the safety of our community is more important than the event.”
Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority President and CEO Daniel Mann says the coordinated decision to cancel the parade was not made lightly. “For eight years this event has had significant impact on the lives of area veterans. It is unfortunate that circumstances present such a threat to the lives of people in our community, particularly veterans and those with high risk factors. We plan to pool our resources and do what we can to publicly thank our veterans in November. This was a hard decision, but it won’t stop us from thanking these brave heroes. They have earned our deepest thanks and appreciation.”
About the Regional Veterans Day Parade in Chaffee Crossing Historic District
The first Regional Veterans Day Parade in the Chaffee Crossing Historic District occurred in November 2012. The Western Arkansas Veterans Coalition voted to hold the parade on the former military grounds because it offered much more space for line ups and organization and would have minimal impact on traffic flow in the area.
Marine Corps Veteran Chris Remaley has served as chairman of the event for eight years and Lorie Robertson, FCRA Director of Marketing, has served as parade committee chair. Under their leadership, the parade has grown to as many as 1,500 participants, floats, walkers, runners, cyclists, cars, trucks, vans, and horses decked out in red, white, and blue. What U.S. Senator John Boozman has called “the premier Veterans Day event in Arkansas” is now an annual tradition that attracts people from all over western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma to celebrate veterans and show appreciation for their sacrifices. In 2015, a Veteran Honors Ceremony was added to the festivities to include medal presentations. Through coordination with U.S. Senator John Boozman’s office each year, military medals of service are presented that have never been awarded or were lost. To date, medals have been presented to 19 veterans or their families during the ceremony including one Bronze Star medal presented 40 years after it was awarded.
The ceremonies have also included patriotic entertainment, speeches by various veterans and community leaders, recognition of area veterans and parade volunteers, coat and canned food drives, Thanksgiving meal give-aways through River Valley Regional Food Bank and Antioch for Youth and Family, and veteran information booths near the Chaffee Crossing Veterans Memorial.
Past parade Grand Marshals and honored guests include:
• 3-Star Lt. General Retired, George Crocker, U.S. Army, Retired
• Rear Admiral Luke McCollum, U.S. Navy
• Brigadier General Tamhra Hutchins-Frey, Retired, Arkansas Air National Guard
• Major Gen. Don Morrow, Retired, Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard
• Major Gen. William Wofford, Retired, Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard
• General Mark Berry, Retired, Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard
• Sgt. Major. Adna Romanza Chaffee IV, U.S. Army, Retired, grandson of Gen. Adna R.
Chaffee, Jr. for whom Fort Chaffee was named
• U.S. Senator John Boozman
• U.S. Congressman Steve Womack
• Various state and local legislators
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About Chaffee Crossing
Chaffee Crossing is Arkansas’ premiere economic development project located within the cities of Fort Smith and Barling. Under the guidance of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority Public Trust, Chaffee Crossing has attracted $1.751 Billion in industrial, commercial, residential, educational, and historical investments that are boosting the economy of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma while also engaging with the regional community to develop quality of life amenities, recreation, and events.