The discontinuation of the annual Veterans Day Parade in Oak Harbor is a sad loss for our entire community.
Originally called Armistice Day, and created at the end of World War I, Veterans Day is the time when we show our respect and appreciation for all those who were willing to give their lives in service to this country.
For the past couple of years, the Whidbey News-Times paid the insurance for the Veterans Day Parade, about $200, because it was a small way of saying thank you to the men and women who sacrificed so that we may have our liberties, including our Freedom of Speech.
We don’t take those precious rights for granted, nor do we take for granted the men and women of our military.
But, despite Oak Harbor’s deep military roots, drumming up interest and support for the parade, held since 2012, has been difficult. Parade coordinator Terry Lacey said he won’t be holding the parade this year because of a lack of interest.
“People always said they would help out, but when it came time to get the work done they never did,” Lacey said.
Along with the help of his wife, Lacey said he was essentially a one-man show when it came to coordinating the event.
Lacey also found the city’s permit requirements and regulations to be cumbersome and time consuming.
“I now have to notify all the businesses at least two weeks in advance and then submit an affidavit affirming that all have been notified,” Lacey said. “It has gotten to be too much and I just can’t do it all by myself.”
City staff was able to do much of the work for Lacey in the past, but the city can no longer do that. Deanna Emery, assistant to Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns, said the city simply doesn’t have the manpower.
Emery said the city is working with the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce to see if something can be worked out.
“We would really like to keep the parade going,” she said.
Considering all that the Navy has brought to the community, we hope that the Oak Harbor chamber or another group will step up and help to keep the Veterans Day Parade alive. Perhaps the chamber can also help defray some of the parade’s costs.
Though he received donations in the past, Lacey said he usually paid many of the expenses for the parade himself.
“I hate to see it go away, and I know some people will be disappointed,” said Lacey, himself a veteran
“I really hope somebody wants to pick it up and keep going with it.”
We hope so too.
Meanwhile, we thank Lacey for his dedication and fortitude, not only for keeping the parade going as long as he did, but for his service to this country.