Merrill to host 2023 Loyalty Day Parade & Celebration on April 29
BY TINA L. SCOTT
Everyone loves a parade!
The city of Merrill has been selected as the location for the statewide VFW and Auxiliary Loyalty Day Parade & Celebration to be held on Saturday, April 29, 2023. The event will begin with a parade at 10:30 a.m. which will start out at the Merrill Festival Grounds, 2001 E. Second St., then take a right onto Sales St., take another right onto E. 10th St., then a right onto Johnson St., another right turn onto E. 6th St., and then end up back at the Merrill Festival Grounds, with a left turn into the Merrill Festival Grounds from 6th St. Please note: This parade won’t follow the traditional route of other Merrill parades which require rerouting traffic on Hwy. 64. Please note the route and mark your calendars to attend!
Merrill VFW Post 1638 and Auxiliary and the City of Merrill are aiming to put on the most significant Loyalty Day Parade Wisconsin has ever seen, and they are asking for the community to help make that happen. Parade registration is currently open, and they are hoping for a massive community turnout, both for parade entries and for parade watchers, and within the community, to make this event a great success.
To register a float/car/truck/band/etc. for the parade, go to https://bit.ly/3m1rBov. The link to the parade entry form is at the bottom of the page.
The theme of this year’s event is: “Loyalty – the Path Forward.”
Merrill, let’s see your patriotic pride!
“The City of Merrill is honored to host Loyalty Day this year,” said Merrill Mayor Steve Hass. “Residents and businesses are encouraged to help decorate the city with red, white, and blue on the days leading up to April 29 to showcase Merrill’s patriotic pride.”
There will be prizes awarded in the patriotic decorating contest, but you must be registered for a chance to win. Contact the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce at 715.536.9474 or stop by in person at their office, 705 N, Center Ave., Merrill to get registered and for a chance to win Chamber Bucks.
Ceremony, speakers, and prize winners
Following the Labor Day Parade, at 1:00 p.m., there will be a Loyalty Day Ceremony inside the Bierman Building/Expo Center, 303 N Sales St., in Merrill on the Merrill Festival Grounds.
The ceremony will honor veterans and parade participants. There will be a variety of guest speakers and a mayoral proclamation. Awards and prizes will be given for “The Best of Color Guard” and to the winners of the patriotic decorating contest (but remember, you must register to win).
There will be a program booklet for the event, and anyone and everyone is encouraged to take out an ad in the booklet. More information and pricing for the booklet is also available on the City’s website at https://bit.ly/3m1rBov.
Banquet and concert/dance
Following the Loyalty Day Parade and Ceremony, a Western-themed banquet will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the Northwoods Veterans Post, honoring Michele Rathke, State VFW Commander, and Faith Elford, State Auxiliary President, for their service, hard work, and dedication to the VFW and State of Wisconsin. The cost is $25 per person and reservations are required. Call the VFW of Wisconsin at 608.221.5276 or sign up in person at the Northwoods Veterans Post, 601 Johnson St., in Merrill to reserve your seat.
Carl Jackson with the Barn Dance Band will play at 8:00 p.m. at Pub 1638 (Northwoods Veterans Post) to keep the celebration going into the night. The concert is free and open to the public.
Honoring Merrill with a 102-year-old tradition
Merrill was selected by Merrill’s own Michele Rathke who is this year’s State VFW Commander who selected the city she calls home to host the annual event.
The event will draw many VFW members and top-ranking officials from around the state of Wisconsin, so it will be a nice boost for Merrill. But more importantly, Merrill will have the honor of carrying on an annual tradition that first started more than a century ago to recognize the heritage of American freedom, known as Loyalty Day.
“It started in 1921 and was observed as a reoccurring national holiday by Congress in 1958,” said Rathke. “We observe Loyalty Day to remind ourselves and others that there is no substitute for loyalty, and we observe it to pledge ourselves to maintain a free society in which patriotism is respected and encouraged.”
Wisconsin remains one of the last few states to observe Loyalty Day. Each year, a Veterans of Foreign Wars post around the state holds a Loyalty Day Parade. Schmitt-Manecke-Donner VFW Post 1638 and Auxiliary of Merrill were selected by the Department of Wisconsin Veterans of Foreign Wars (with a little help from Rathke) to host it this year.
Created at the demand of thousands of members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who led the campaign for many years to secure federal recognition of the patriotic holiday, Loyalty Day has grown in scope each year where it is celebrated. Each year it is recognized by more and more Americans for its serious intent–a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to their country and thanksgiving for the heritage of American freedom.
Loyalty Day is a day set aside to reaffirm one’s individual allegiance to the United States and to recognize the heritage of American freedom. The City of Merrill and Merrill VFW Post 1638 and Auxiliary are honored to be hosting Loyalty Day 2023.