An occasion to say a big ‘ thank you’

Staff writerNovember 10, 2013 

AubParade

Instead of sitting in the reviewing stand wear he was an honored guest World War II navy veteran Don Hanson, 91 of kent, walked the parade route Saturday 11/9/13 during the 48th annual Auburn Veterans Day Parade giving hugs and handshakes to the crowd. "I love these people and this parade ," said the former gunners mate first class as he enjoyed the admiration from the people who attended the event has grown into one of the largest Veteran's Day parades in the country. Dean J. Koepfler / Staff Photographer

DEAN J. KOEPFLER — staff photographer

“ Thank you for your service.”

Thousands of people lined Auburn’ s Main Street on Saturday for the city’ s annual Veterans Day Parade, a mile-long extravaganza that’ s billed as the biggest such event west of the Mississippi River.

More than 5,500 people participated in this year’ s parade, according to organizers. The official count of 215 entries included 25 marching bands and remnants of military units from several generations of war.

Veterans made their way past throngs of spectators on foot, on motorcycles, in wheelchairs and in an assortment of military vehicles that included Strykers, Huey helicopters and Vietnam-era river patrol boats on flatbed trailers.

Auburn’ s narrow Main Street put marching veterans close to sidewalks. Hundreds of people stepped forward to shake hands and offer gratitude.

Marilyn Sutey, 72, of Auburn, waving a plastic flag from the sidewalk, caught the eye of a ponytailed Vietnam veteran idling slowly past in a noisy regiment of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

“ Thank you, ” she said, mouthing the words clearly to be understood through the roar.

He nodded in return.

“ I thank them for protecting our country, ” Sutey said. “ If it weren’ t for them, we wouldn’ t have the freedoms we have.”

Sutey said her father and two brothers were veterans and that she rarely misses the Auburn parade. “ Unless it’ s pouring rain, I always come, ” she said. “ This is the least I can do.”

Auburn is recognized by the National Veterans Day Committee and the Department of Defense as a regional site for the annual celebration. Auburn has hosted a Veterans Day parade since 1965.

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