Float On

The Daisy Mountain Veteran’s Parade and Charity Picnic honors heroes

By Niki D’Andrea

Every year at 11:11 a.m. on November 11, something magical happens in Anthem. That’s when the sun beams precisely through the five white pillars that comprise the Anthem Veteran’s Memorial and shines a spotlight on the Great Seal of the United States. It’s a monumental marvel engineered by James Martin that draws thousands of people from all over the U.S. every year.

But a week prior to this elliptical entertainment, something else truly magical happens in Anthem: The Daisy Mountain Veteran’s Parade and Charity Picnic. Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 3, this year’s parade – the 14th iteration – honors veterans who served in Somalia and observes the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu/Black Hawk Down.

Anthem resident Chuck Hale, a Marine who served in Somalia, is Grand Marshal for the parade this year. He says the cause of recognizing and helping veterans is ingrained in him, along with the sense of service and duty that comes from being in the military. “We take care of each other,” Hale says. “It’s continuing to serve in my community, and we’ve got a lot of brothers and sisters out there that are struggling… I’ve had other vets that helped me, and that’s important. It’s mandatory volunteerism that I was indoctrinated into.”

The parade, which features numerous decorated floats, starts at Gavilan Peak Parkway and Memorial Drive, and wraps up at the Anthem Community Center. This year, for the first time, spectators along the sidelines will be able to throw candy to parade participants. A military jet flyover is also planned.

After the parade, the community picnic commences at 11 a.m. on softball fields 3 and 4 at Anthem Community Park. There will be a beer garden courtesy of Rotary Club of Anthem, live music, a trailer hosting video games, bounce houses, tethered hot air balloon rides, food, drinks and live music. A cornhole tournament begins at 11:30 a.m. Funds raised go toward nonprofit organizations Youth for Troops and A Veteran in Need.

Among the prominent players helping to organize and promote the parade and picnic is a group called Anthem Young Professionals (AYP), a business network and member of the Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce. AYP member Sawana Grimmett, owner of The Salt Spa in Anthem and AYP committee chair, says the parade and picnic “is a very fun thing.”

“It’s a very fun, family-oriented thing,” she says. “The community piece of it is huge, and it’s just a lot of good fun for everybody. There’s drinks, there’s food, there’s a cornhole tournament – some people get competitive and get really into it.”

Jennifer Uhlig, past fundraising chair for the events, says Anthem’s high population of veterans make the picnic and parade an important and much-anticipated aspect of the community. “We have such a large percentage of (veterans) here in Anthem, so it made sense to have the parade be veteran-focused, and now we have the nonprofits that we’re giving to that make sure they’re sending care packages to active veterans or we’re helping a veteran family in need,” Uhlig says. “I think it just hits home for our community and shows what’s important here.”

For more information on the Daisy Mountain Veteran’s Parade and Picnic, visit daisymtnvets.org or facebook.com/events/426505384506048.

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