In all her years of organizing Ottawa Veterans Day activities, every minute has been worth it, Sheri Wright-Anderson said.
“I don’t think anything is that hard if you have a passion for it,” she said.
This year will be Wright-Anderson’s last year organizing the annual Ottawa Veterans Celebration, which will take place Friday through Sunday.
Wright-Anderson first became involved with the event in 1992.
“I got started because one day I was sitting in Pancho’s which is Leon’s now and so my dad was in the VFW and they had a parade down the street on one side,” she said. “Nobody’s hardly stopped for them – the other lane was open, and it was just these old men holding the flags walking down the street with the VFW vehicle.”
In that moment, she decided to become involved.
“It kind of made me mad because my dad lost all his brothers in the war, and my cousin in Vietnam,” she said. “That’s basically how I got started.”
Through networking and community support, the weekend’s main event — a parade and wreath-laying ceremony Saturday morning — has grown from a few floats to a thriving Franklin County cultural moment.
“First three or four or five years were the most difficult because I had cancer at the time,” Wright-Anderson said. “I did it all by myself for six years and then I started calling in people to help me. Luckily, I have a large family and a large church family, so they help me with everything, right down to standing on the corner to tell people where to go.
“When I first started we had about 10 floats in it, and then it grew to over 200 now.”
Wright-Anderson attributes the growth to the community’s ever growing sense of thankfulness and respect toward veterans.
“The reason I believe it grew is because our community has rallied behind our veterans,” she said.
The events for this weekend are as follows:
Friday: November 9, 2018
WWII and Civil war camp set up at forest park (open 6:00-7:30)
Saturday: November 10, 2018
9:00 am veterans day event ceremonies
10:30 am free coffee for veterans
10:45 am parade begins
11:00 am ceremonies at 4th and Main & Fly-over
Activities at Forest Park
12:00 pm Military vehicles & display
1:00 pm kansas river gang shoot-out
2:00 pm prelude to world war II
2:15 pm world war II re-enactment.
3:00 pm prelude to civil war
3:15 pm civil war firing demonstration and/or civil war skirmish
4:30 pm boy scout troup 77 flag retirement
6:00 pm TAPS by Colton Leadbetter OHS Graduate and Ottawa University student
8:00 pm Civil War Cannon Firing Demonstration
5:00 pm Marine Corps Ball public invited great life golf course country club
Sunday: November 11, 2018
1:00 pm Civil War Firing Demonstration and/or Civil War Skirmish
5:00 pm Break camp
All day Applebee’s in Ottawa KS Free Meals All Day
Victoria Smith contributed to this report.