Tucson Veterans Day Parade canceled due to downtown construction

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 7:06 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Tucson Veterans Day staple was canceled for the second year in a row after the city was unable to approve a permit for the event because of construction along the downtown parades route.

Mike Graham, public information officer for Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility, said parade organizers followed protocols but the city ultimately didn’t think it was safe to close another main roadway for the celebration.

“We were approached by the Veterans Day Parade organizer, we sat down, we tried to find a suitable location for such a large parade and at the end of the day we couldn’t come up with a suitable location so the organizer canceled the event,” Graham said.

After the parade was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, Air Force veteran Ann Rodgers said the news is another blow amid an already tough year.

“The parade was a nice way of saying, “Hey look, you guys did something special, that’s why we’re honoring you and letting you know,” Rodgers said. “This year it means a great deal to me because we lost my husband last year who was a retired vet - a combat chopper pilot in Vietnam. He had attended several times himself before he just wasn’t able to anymore.”

Graham said numerous construction projects are now overlapping because of COVID-19, monsoon and planning delays. He said closing a route for the parade along with current construction closures could make it hard for some people to get in and out of downtown.

“These are voter-approved projects that we want to get finished, that need to get finished,” Graham said. “The Downtown Links Phase 3 project and then we have an improvement project on Grenada/Main, which is a Proposition 101 Tucson Delivers Better Streets program, voter-approved project.”

Rodgers had plans for months to bring a picture of her husband to the parade and attend for the first time. She cannot walk easily and purchased a scooter just for the occasion.

“We’re one of the few cities in Arizona that won’t have a parade,” Rodgers. “This is, I’m afraid an excuse, they just don’t want to do it. These men and women put their lives on the line, it’s also to honor those coming back to say thank you.”

Graham said the city plans to work with organizers to make the parade a success in 2022.

Organizers from the Tucson Veterans Day Parade commented on the cancellation to KOLD by stating:

“American Legion Morgan McDermott Post 7 regrets that there will not be a parade this year due to construction issues. When we were finally able to sit down with the city, 4 weeks ago, the routes offered would not safely accommodate our participants and onlookers. The amount of coordination required to put on a proper parade takes months, not weeks, due to the moving parts between our parade committee and our parade participants. Again, we apologize for not having a parade this year, and look forward to having a fully successful proper parade next year, construction willing. We are also in need of more volunteers on the committee to help make that happen.”

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