Parade delivers patriotism
VIRGINIA CITY – The boardwalks of C Street were alive with flag-waving revelers Thursday, cheering those past and present Americans who’ve served their country.
Some 48 Veterans Day parade entries sauntered down C Street, portions of which still held the light snow that fell earlier in the week.
Steve Ritter of Washoe Valley said he’ll attend no other Veterans Day Parade.
“There’s no politics here,” said Ritter. “This parade means what it’s supposed to mean.”
Vietnam veteran Chuck Fulcher of Carson City said he is also loyal to Virginia City’s parade.
When Fulcher returned from Vietnam in 1969, the reception for service members was ugly, he said.
“It’s different now because the Vietnam vet wouldn’t let it happen again,” said Fulcher, as buddy Ritter pounded Fulcher’s back and proclaimed what a good guy he is. “We’re bringing these guys home better than we were brought. By us honoring those coming home it’s allowed us to be honored, too.”
The parade’s grand marshal, 91-year-old John Koch, was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during World War II for 28 months of his “4-year-1-month-and-18-day” enlistment in “Uncle Sam’s Army.”
Koch said he was glad to be part of the parade, especially since the only requirement was that he be able to wave.
“And I can wave,” he said with a wink.
This was the 17th year that the Incline High School ROTC participated, said instructor Charles Porter, a retired Army first sergeant.
“We come here because this one has been the longest running parade and the crowd just loves the kids,” he said. “And the kids like it here. Reno just doesn’t have the ambiance they have here.”
The origin of the Virginia City parade is a bit foggy. Veterans of Foreign War National Aide-de-Camp David L. Armstrong thinks it was in the early 1980s when he sidled up to the rail at the Crystal Bar and asked then-Sheriff Bob Del Carlo and bar owner Bill Marks if they thought Virginia City would host a parade.
Del Carlo and Marks, emcees of the parade, said they remember that conversation as happening in the ’70s.
Armstrong said that at the time there was talk of Reno charging Veterans Day Parade entrants for the cost of extra police to work the event. That chapped Armstong’s hide, and Del Carlo and Mark were quickly on board.
A few phone calls and days later, the annual Virginia City Veterans Day Parade began.
Armstrong said that, all these years later, the parade still does what Veterans Day was intended to do – it recognizes all who’ve served in the United States military.
“Everybody should be proud of their service, whether they were a dishwasher of carried a rifle,” said Armstrong. “This city wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for veterans.”