It's on! Armed Forces Day Parade set for May 1

James Beaty Managing Editor, McAlester News-Capital, Okla.
·3 min read

Mar. 5—McAlester's Armed Forces Day Parade is on for this year, set for the first weekend in May.

Armed Forces Day Chairman Jeff Wolf said this year's event is getting a thumbs up after cancellation of the 2020 Armed Forces Day celebration due to COVID-19.

Wolf said he's talked with representatives from the city of McAlester, the McAlester Area Chamber of Commerce, McAlester Main Street, the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant and others involved — and he said everyone's ready to move forward.

"We believe we can do this right and honor our military," said Wolf.

The 74th Armed Forces Day Parade is now set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 1, in Downtown McAlester.

Although there will not be an Armed Forces Day Banquet at McAAP on the Friday preceding the parade this year, there will be a featured speaker, with plans to live stream his presentation, Wolf said.

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Matt Fitter is set to deliver the keynote address. Fitter, who is a helicopter pilot stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in North Carolina, will also serve as parade marshal, Wolf said. Details are yet to be finalized, but he's expected to deliver his remarks around noon on April 30, the Friday preceding the May 1 Downtown Parade.

Also, no fly-in is scheduled this year, which allows the focus to rest on the downtown event, said Wolf.

Those who would like to participate are encouraged to create floats for the parade, organizers said. Wolf said a registration portal is being set up by McAlester Main Street and the Chamber to allow parade entrants to register through the Armed Forces Day Facebook page, that's expected to be ready by next week.

Those who have already accepted an invitation to participate include the Langston University Marching Band, with some details, including transportation, still being worked out, contingent on no issues arising related to COVID-19. Wolf said If things go as planned, Langston will send a considerable ensemble to McAlester.

"There are right at 170 members in the band," Wolf said.

Plans call for the parade to embark from A street and turn east on Carl Albert Parkway to Fifth Street, where parade participants will turn south for one block to Choctaw Avenue. Participants will then turn west on Choctaw Avenue and proceed to Main Street.

That should allow plenty of opportunities for social distancing for those watching the parade.

"There's a lot of room along the parade route," said Wolf.

Theme for this year's parade is the 30th Anniversary of Operation Desert Storm.

"It is very dear to our community because the men and women of the 445th were deployed," Wolf said, referring to when the McAlester-based 445th Military Police Company of the Oklahoma National Guard was deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Desert Storm.

"We're going to honor all of the services that participated — that's all of them," Wolf said. The U.S. Army will be special honoree for this year's Armed Forces Day Parade, said Wolf.

Wolf said plans remain underway and more information will be announced as it is confirmed.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.