News Local/State

Danville V.A. Health Care Campus To Host Veterans Day Parade

A flag-lined Blue Star Highway on the campus of the V.A. Illiana Health Care System campus in Danville.

Blue Star Highway, on the campus of the V-A Illiana Health Care System in Danville, is lined with flags for Veterans Day. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

Danville, Illinois, will see its first Veterans Day parade in memory, Monday morning at 10 A.M. The parade will take place entirely on the campus of the V-A Illiana Health Care System.

Danville’s V-A health care facility dates back to 1898, with the founding of what was officially called the Danville Branch of the National Home For Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, but was often referred to as the Old Soldier’s Home. V-A Illiana spokesperson Melissa Spady says they can’t remember when the town had previously held a Veterans Day parade.

Spady says Illiana Health Care System executive director Shawn Bransky decided to hold a Veterans Day parade this year, as a follow-up to the 120th anniversary activities held in 2018. Spady says finding participants for this first parade on just two months’ notice was not hard in Danville, a town she describes as “veteran-centric.”

“When I reached out to potential community partners on participating, they said ‘count us in, we love our veterans, we want to be part of this, we recognize what this is going to bring to our community’,” said Spady. “And it’s just a sense of pride for everyone. So it was not difficult at all.”

Spady says more than 20 groups are participating in the parade, including a police honor guard, and vintage car groups such as the Illiana Antique Auto Club and the Corvette Cruisers of Illinois. The Illinois Patriot Guard Riders were also scheduled to take part; they're a motorcycle group formed to attend the funeral services of soldiers, veterans and first-responders.

Spady says that, if the weather permits, there will also be something extra if people who come to watch the parade look up in the sky.

“I don’t want to let all of our secrets out,” said Spady, “but we’re going to have a surprise in the sky, to start out the parade, that starts promptly at ten o’clock.”

The parade is being held Monday morning, despite snow in the weather forecast. However, some groups have bowed out, according to a notice posted Sunday evening on the V.A. Illiana Health Care Systems Facebook page.   Spady says the withdrawals include the Danville High School marching band, and an honor guard from Veedersburg, although the Danville Police honor guard was still scheduled to be in the parade.

The parade route will be confined to the grounds of the Danville V.A. Health Care System campus, located off of East Main Street (U.S. Route 136) in Danville. The V.A. facilities is adjacent to Danville Area Community College, and those coming to watch the parade are invited to park at the college’s Bremer Center parking lot, just a short walk from the parade route.

Before the parade, the vocal quartet Four On The Floor will perform at 9:30 AM, at the V-A campus’s bandstand, a gazebo located next to the college campus.

Spady says it’s hoped that the Veterans Day parade will become an annual event at the V-A Illiana Health Care System campus.

"You know, this is our first year," said Spady. "And we do have some lessons learned, that we will put together a listing to make it bigger and better for next year. But we have a strong base for putting something on, relatively quickly, within two months’ time.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated, to note that the forecast for snow has led some units to withdraw, but that the parade is still being held. JM 11/11/19 12:51 AM.