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Armed Forces Day Parade shows community's support for veterans

McAlester News-Capital - 5/6/2024

May 6—Armed Forces Day Parade Committee Chairman Jeff Wolf and other committee members faced a dilemma last Friday.

Should they cancel the AFD Parade in the face of weather forecasts calling for a 70% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday, the day of the parade, or should they press on with the event?

In addition to the boots on the ground, the parade also included several flyovers by aircraft, including F-16s and War Birds.

Wolf, who is a U.S. Army veteran, reverted to his military training — and to his faith. He and the rest of the committee decided to press on with the parade plans.

"You can't plan to fail," said Wolf. "We believe in going full speed ahead with it until it cannot be done."

That's exactly what they did, with the rains holding off until overnight Saturday into Sunday.

Wolf and the Armed Forces Day Committee weren't the only ones who pressed forward with the AFD Parade plans despite the 70% chance of thunderstorms. So did nearly all of those who had signed up to participate in the events.

That included the 77th U.S. Army Band, which traveled from Fort Sill in Lawton to march and play in the AFD Parade along with approximately 100 other parade entries, including the Honor Guard from Tinker Air Force Base.

Some of those entries had multiple vehicles involved. Wolf said before the parade began, the lineup extended from A Street from Carl Albert Parkway to the Dream City Church.

As for the flyovers, Wolf had expected two F-16s to conduct a flyover along the parade route. Instead, he got four. The same held with the Warbirds, which conducted several flights over McAlester as part of the AFD celebration.

Wolf also felt impressed by the number of local and area residents, along with visitors, who lined the parade route.

"I'm so proud for the community showing up and showing their support for our veterans," he said.

This year marked the 77th Armed Forces Day celebration in McAlester, which Wolf said ties McAlester with a city in Washington for the longest-running Armed Forces Day event in the nation.

Wolf noted the many contributions from those who help with the McAlester Armed Forces Day celebration, including veterans and military groups, civic organizations, businesses and individuals.

"Every organization helped," Wolf said. "I'm proud."

Wolf said plans are already underway for next year's AFD event. One change will likely include finding a larger venue for the AFD Luncheon, which quickly sold-out at the Aldridge Ballroom.

Wolf mentioned at the conclusion of the Armed Forces Day Luncheon held Friday at the Aldridge Ballroom that parade organizers were watching the weather for the Saturday parade.

Wolf asked those who would be willing to do so to pray for the event.

With no rain Saturday while the parade was in-progress, he believes those prayers were answered.


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