Veterans parade

A group of Girl Scouts wave flags in 2019 during the annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Athens. 

With so many Veterans Day programs and events canceled or still up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the annual Veterans Day parade in Athens are hoping to make this year's parade the biggest and best yet.

The Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives has announced the 2020 parade is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, and registration is already open for those who wish to participate. Sandy Thompson, executive director of the museum, said the rules are simple — anything patriotic, anything military, but nothing political or intentionally controversial.

"Everything's been so crazy this year," Thompson said. "There's a lot of events being canceled, so I don't know if the schools will have veterans programs. ... This is a way to come out and participate in the parade or come out and wave a flag."

There are no fees for registering a float, either. Donations to the museum are welcome and appreciated, she said, but "with everything that's going on, we don't want anyone to have a reason not to participate."

Instead of a grand marshal, the parade will honor all veterans of the Korean War. The museum honored World War II veterans last year, and Thompson noted many of those veterans also fought in the Korean War because the two were only five years apart.

"It was pretty much no time at all between the two wars," she said, adding the museum would be "more than happy" to have any Korean War veterans who wish to join the parade contact the museum about doing so.

In addition to the museum, AARP and several local service organizations will be sponsoring and helping out with the parade. Thompson said the parade route will be announced at a future date.

Museum updates

The Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives is starting its move across the parking lot to the former Limestone County Event Center. Thompson said the museum and its exhibits will remain free and open to the public during the move.

"We hope to move one display at a time and set it up as we go, and that way, it won't be interrupted," Thompson said, adding there will be new, exciting exhibits once the move is complete.

In the meantime, the event center is open for rentals. Thompson said they can fit up to 300 people and encouraged anyone looking for a space to host their Christmas party or other holiday event to call the museum at 256-771-7578 for more information.

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