WELCH, WV (WOAY) – “As you look up and down the streets, you’ll see these signs that have veteran’s pictures on them. And those are local people.”
The streets were lined before the 102nd addition even began this morning. The Welch Veteran’s Day Parade is one of the biggest events of the year, and it hits close to home throughout McDowell County.
“You would not believe how many people McDowell County has sent to all of the wars and conflicts around the nation,” said House of Delegates Member Ed Evans. “As a matter of fact, McDowell County has sent more veterans per capita from our county than any county in the nation.”
Social distancing measures were taken to ensure a safe parade amid the threat of COVID-19.
“It gives the people something to look forward to,” said McDowell County Commission President Cecil Dale Patterson. “They look forward to this every year. Usually, we have a big dinner right after this and the streets are lined up through here. Usually it’s wall to wall through here. We’re just trying to keep the tradition and keep people’s spirits up in this bad time.”
In a normal year, McDowell Street would have been lined with bands playing and children on floats, but the McDowell community still showed out to honor its veterans.
“We’d have loved to have it the way it’s supposed to be,” Evans said. “But we had a drive-by parade, a ‘reverse parade,’ they call it. And look how many came out and just waved and blew their horns. I’m telling you, people have been in this parade for generations.”
A staple of Welch rain or shine, officials are hoping that the 103rd parade will feel a little more normal in 2021.
“Just trying to make sure we continue this parade for years to come,” Patterson said.
Cars were lined up at 9:15 this morning in preparation for the 10:00 start.