The Fresno Veterans Day Parade, touted by organizers as the “largest west of the Mississippi,” will bring about 5,000 participants together in downtown Fresno Wednesday to honor current and former members of the U.S. armed forces.
“This is an opportunity for people to show their patriotism and how they care for veterans,” parade chairman Chris Gonzalez said.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 11 a.m. in front of Fresno City Hall. The parade will begin at 11:11 a.m., a time that represents the armistice to end World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
The parade chooses a different armed forces branch to honor each year. This year’s will celebrate the U.S. Navy, meaning all Navy-related floats will be at the front of the parade.
Capt. Monty “Ash” Ashliman, a former Navy fighter pilot, will serve as the grand marshal.
The route begins from the corner of Tulare and P streets and moves northwest on P toward Mariposa Mall. The parade will turn left onto Fresno Street and then left onto M Street before circling back to Tulare. It will end at Chukchansi Park.
The parade, which travels 1.15 miles, is expected to end around 2 p.m.
Gonzalez said that several motorcycle and classic car clubs will ride in the parade.
“It’s a good social platform for anyone who wants to honor their family members by carrying pictures,” he said. “And businesses can ride their company vehicles in support of vets.”
The first Fresno Veterans Parade ran in 1919 during the country’s first celebration of Armistice Day, later renamed Veterans Day, Gonzalez said. The parade has run off and on ever since.
Gonzalez credits Fresno’s large, active veteran community for the success and size of the annual event.
Around 5,000 people also marched in last year’s parade. Participants do not need to have any sort of affiliation with the armed forces; anyone can march provided they register and pay a fee.