CONNERSVILLE, Ind. – A once popular summer event to honor the military will return to Connersville next month. The Armed Day Parade will take place on Saturday, May 18.
According to folks in town, the parade began as an annual tradition sometime in the 1970s, held on the third Saturday of May, which is Armed Forces Day.
"At one time, it was the largest in the state of Indiana," said Adrian Ellis, a member of the Armed Forces Weekend Committee, which is doing the leg work to get the parade back on the street. Ellis clarified it was the largest military parade based on the number of people and floats involved. "Our goal is to get back at that. Possibly exceed it."
The last parade took place in 1994.
Retired Senior Chief Mike Moore was enlisted in the Navy. He said he was the grand marshal in 1990.
"This county is a very patriotic county," said Moore. "I think this will be the shot in the arm to get things going again."
The parade is still accepting entries if organizations are looking to take part. Ellis said all branches of military, past and present members, can be a part of the parade's return. They're working with other local groups, such as the Boy Scouts, Patriot Guard, and other veteran groups to get them signed up.
Interested groups can click here to learn more about participating. Ellis said signups will remain open until the day before the event.
An Indiana National Guard armory is still very active in Connersville.
"This community, since I got here in 2016, has been more than supportive to us," said Sergeant First Class Shawn Tooley with the Indiana National Guard. "We can’t even go out into the community without getting thanks or letting them know they support us.
Tooley said guardsmen enlisted through his armory will be very involved in the parade's return.
The parade is expected to begin at 1 p.m. and a community picnic in the park will take place at the end of the route. The parade ends at Roberts Park, which is next to the armory.
The event will put a focus on honoring Vietnam veterans, who were not properly honored during the parade when it used to take place, according to Moore and Ellis.
"They were treated horribly at the end of their term," said Ellis. "We want to start to rectify that."
Moore added four men from Fayette County were killed during the Vietnam War.
Donations are still being accepted to help cover the expenses of this year's parade and to help fund the annual event.