HAVERHILL — This is a tale of two parades — and the role of veterans in both of them.
One is the Veterans Day Parade, which will be Sunday. Organizers are hoping to draw a bigger crowd than in past years to honor Haverhill people who served in the military.
The other is the annual Santa Parade, which is Nov. 18. Organizers of that event said they are having trouble finding veterans to march in the parade and support the theme “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”
Organizers of the Veterans Day Parade are encouraging the public to come out for the event Sunday. They said the parade may not have all the glitz of the annual Santa Parade, which draws a huge crowd, but veterans deserve more thanks from the community than they receive.
Organizers are also issuing a plea for all Haverhill veterans to take part in the parade. Along with various groups of marchers, there will be antique vehicles, the American Legion float, a World War II Jeep pulling a 37-mm cannon, and other military equipment and vehicles.
”Every day should be ‘thank the veterans day,’” said John Kazarosian, a World War II veteran who has been in charge of the parade for 20 years and will again serve as emcee.
As Kazarosian and his helpers make preparations for that parade, the city is bracing for its 48th annual VFW Santa Parade, sponsored by Lorraine Post 29, which is Nov. 18 starting at 1 p.m. in front of the Bradford Fire Station. Santa Parade organizers said they are having difficulty finding recently returning veterans who are willing to participate. They are asking the public to spread the word to veterans.
Thomas Sullivan, vice chairman of the Santa Parade Committee, said he hopes to welcome home local veterans and have them participate.
”We’ve done outreach through our local veterans agent and veterans council, but we haven’t received many positive responses to date,” Sullivan said. “We will, of course, have our local veteran organizations marching, as we always do. But this year we are hoping to feature veterans that have just come home.”
Kazarosian, who was a sergeant in the Army during World War II and later served in the Navy, eventually retiring from the Navy as a senior chief, said it’s been 10 years since the Veterans Day Parade drew a large crowd. He said he promotes the event each year, but the crowds just don’t show up as they once did.
”I remember when both sides of Main Street were loaded with people,” Kazarosian said. “Now we get a crowd in Monument Square and a crowd at the Peace Monument, but not much of a crowd along the parade route.
”The country has changed and you can’t force people to come out,” Kazarosian said. “Even when the weather is good, they don’t come out. I can understand if it’s a bad day, but it’s supposed to be close to 60 degrees on Sunday, which is looking like a pretty good day.”
Presented each year by the Wilbur M. Comeau Post 4, American Legion, the parade will form at 10 a.m. in front of VFW Lorraine Post 29, 64 Kenoza Ave. The march will begin at 10:30 a.m. and proceed to Monument Square, and then down Main Street to the Global Peace Monument at the intersection of Main Street and Ginty Boulevard, for a program honoring the men and woman of the military. A buffet luncheon will follow at the American Legion Farm, 1314 Main St.
After the parade, Kazarosian will give his annual speech, which he titles his “Veteran’s Day Message.” Four divisions will take part in the Veterans Day Parade on Sunday:
The first division includes Chief Parade Marshal Kazarosian and American Legion Commander Dave DiCeglie, American Legion Color Guard, Amvets Color Guard, all veterans and the Marine Corps ROTC.
The second division will have federal, state and city officials, members of the Haverhill Police Department and honor guard, the Haverhill Fire Department, Sons of the American Legion, all auxiliaries and the Sons of Italy Drum & Bugle Corps.
The third division includes the Merrimack and Saggahew Masonic lodges, the Elks Lodge, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies.
The fourth division is for all other motorized vehicles.
How to participate in the parades Veterans interested in marching in Sunday's Veterans Day Parade are asked to contact the American Legion at 978-373-6885. Saturday is the deadline for participants and floats to enter this year's VFW Santa Parade, which will be Nov. 18. Applications are available at vfwsantaparade.com and must be returned to the VFW by Saturday. Veterans interested in marching in the Santa Parade are asked to contact Roland Plourde at 978-373-3777.