BEND, OR -- Bend’s annual Veterans Day parade is now in the hands of the Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO). The Bend Chamber of Commerce took over the annual event in 2014. But Robin Rogers, with the Chamber, says the business group never intended to run the event, long term, "The decision was, when we took the parade four years ago, was to really jump in and help bring it back where it needed to be. And, we always had the idea that at some point we really wanted to pass it over to one of the veterans’ organizations."
The Bend Chamber made the decision official Monday, leaving just a short window to raise the required funding before the November 11 event. COVO Executive Director J.W. Terry says there is some help available, "A former Bend police officer, who has since passed away, left some money that was for permits only," Terry says, "We’ll have to do some fundraising to put on the rest of the parade." He's confident the community will step up, as it always does. Rogers says sponsorships are a necessity, "Because there is absolutely no government funding, whatsoever, to help produce that parade. So, they’ll be pursuing that now and we will still be helping, as well."
Bend boasts one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the state. Terry looks forward to carrying on the tradition restarted by Mike Dolan, in 1999. "Bend had stopped doing the Veterans Day Parade and he was frustrated and grabbed an American flag and marched down Wall Street by himself to reinstitute a Veterans Day parade. And since that time, it’s just continued to grow." He tells KBND News it's a big honor, "I feel very excited; I feel very proud. I also – as a veteran – I feel very humbled with this responsibility."