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Albany veterans parade needs volunteers

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Veterans Day parade

Oregon's own 234th Army band marching in the 2019 Albany Veterans Day Parade. The parade organizers are looking for volunteers to help coordinate this year's parade, or it may not happen for the second year in a row.

The annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Albany is at risk of not happening this year due to a shortage of volunteers and staff. The vice president of the group that organizes the parade is asking for members of the public to step up.

“We’re in desperate need of volunteers or else it’s not going to happen,” said Al Severson, the vice president of the Albany Veterans Commemorative Association and owner of The Frame House in downtown Albany. “I’ve got to recruit and I’m in a real pickle right now. I need to find people who are willing to step up and take on some leadership roles.”

He referenced the many things that go on behind the scenes in order to plan a parade: everything from proper permitting to public outreach and “the whole pages of stuff” that has to occur before an event can come to fruition.

The Veterans Day parade happens in November and sends vehicles and floats down a route that begins at Seventh Avenue and Pacific Boulevard, crossing over the overpass and continuing downtown. In the spirit of the holiday, the festivities celebrate the armed forces and other individuals who enlist in service of the country. There are often thousands of people involved in the parade itself, not to mention tens of thousands who line the streets in support.

The 2020 parade was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, so this year was supposed to be a return to form. But that return can’t happen without a group of volunteers.

Former AVCA president Patty Louisiana, who stepped down from her role for family reasons, described how many moving parts there are to this kind of organization, and she said there are still question marks surrounding the COVID restrictions that may be coming, as caseloads continue to soar.

“There’s so much talk about maybe going back to mandates … so even at this moment we’re in a fluctuating situation,” she said. “Whether the parade goes on this year or not, or if it’s as large as it has been … I know that there are great people who will step up and do what I did. I know that because somehow I was talked in doing it 12 years ago.”

Severson says those who are interested can contact him directly at 541-928-7676. While he would love to find permanent members of the AVCA committee, he’d settle for temporary volunteers who will help plan and coordinate this year’s parade.

“I’ve been involved in this for 49 years, so I really want to see this happen,” Severson said. “But I’m like a lost dog right now. I want to see it happen but I need help.”

Troy Shinn covers healthcare, natural resources and the Linn County government. He can be reached at 541-812-6114 or troy.shinn@lee.net. He can be found on Twitter at @troydshinn. 

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