Updated for 2017-If you’re looking to do something for Veteran’s Day with your kids, the Auburn Veterans Day Parade is your best option in the South Sound. It’s the only Veterans Day Parade in the greater Tacoma/Pierce County/South King County area, and it’s the biggest one west of the Mississippi!
It’s a great way to honor our Veterans, and it’s also just a lot of fun for kids with a grand parade and tons of vehicles to see. This year’s parade is Saturday, and we’ve got all the info. you need to know straight from our friends at Auburn Parks and Rec. Read on for all of it!
The 51st Annual Auburn Veterans Day Parade is Saturday, November 11th, 2017, at 11:00 AM
The one mile parade route runs west along Main St. to A St. NW
The parade will showcase over 200 military units, over 5,500 parade participants, more than 30 high school marching bands, military vehicles, veterans’ units, honor guards and more! They’re anticipating at least two flyovers including a C-17 and. UH-1 Huey Helicopter.
If you’d like to go with the kids, here are tips on parking, bathrooms, and viewing spots thanks to coordinator, Kristy (a mom herself)!
Keep in mind that this parade is a really big deal-even by parade standards. In fact, it’s the biggest Veterans Day Parade West of the Mississippi, featuring two hours of marching bands, military groups and vehicles!
Kristy suggests parking at the transit center. It’s free and covered, and there will be plenty of spots.
The best viewing spots are by the review stand, which will be in front of City Hall at 25 West Main Street.** You’ll get a good view here, and you’ll be close to where the announcer is describing the groups going by. Kristy says if you arrive by 10 and set up your chairs, you should be able to stake out a good spot. Some folks go get breakfast after they set up, but Kristy suggests you do what she does with her little ones, and use the time to explore the static displays.
The Static Display & Exhibit Showcase, from 9am – 2pm, will be held on South Division Street and A Street SE. The Washington National Guard is planning to bring their rock wall (pending weather), which will be free for people of all ages to try. They’ve also planned to bring a variety of vehicles, equipment and troops. The U.S. Army is coming with a huge display of military vehicles and equipment. This area is such a treat because kiddos get to go inside and check these out, which is a rare opportunity. There’s also some food vendors sprinkled within the Static Display area including Fisher Fair Scones, hot dogs, kettle corn and more.
Kristy recommends folding chairs or strollers for seats. You may also want to bring ear protection, depending on how sensitive your kiddos are. Many of the participants are part of motorcycle groups. Kristy said kids seems to love watching them go by, but they can get noisy. Reader, CoreyAnn, suggests bringing a pop up tent if it looks like rain, as much of the route (including the area in front of City Hall) doesn’t have any overhang. You will want to set this up before the parade starts! **The only exception is if you’re more interested in marching bands. In that case, Kristy says to find a spot along Main and D Street NE
There is also now a 2nd announcer at Main and B St. NE.
Food vendors will be located in the Static Display area (S Division Street). In the past there has also been a food vendor at Main and B Street NE (It might have been Auntie Anne’s?). Kristy did warn me last year that lines can get long. Her family packs their own food.
City Hall bathrooms will be available. This is also a good spot if you need to pop in somewhere and warm up.
Other Good Info
Military units are at the start of the parade, and then bands (over 25!) are staggered through out the parade. Your kiddos won’t likely want to stay for the whole thing, but you will have gotten a taste of most of the best stuff at the beginning.
We are working on updating our other Veterans Day posts (check back for those), but if you’re wanting to do something to recognize the day with the kiddos, this is truly your best bet.
If you’ve done this parade before, leave a comment. I’d love to know your best tips, too!