By DANIEL KITTREDGE After a number of years, a Veterans Day tradition is being revived in Cranston. The city will host a Veterans Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 11, with a 1.2-mile route leading from the intersection of Park and Doric avenues to the war
After a number of years, a Veterans Day tradition is being revived in Cranston.
The city will host a Veterans Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 11, with a 1.2-mile route leading from the intersection of Park and Doric avenues to the war memorial at the corner of Rolfe Square and Pontiac Avenue.
“It’s been too long,” said Paul McAuley, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Ken Hopkins, who has been working to organize the event. He said the last parade, once a regular event in the city, was held in the 1990s.
Two divisions are planned for the procession, which will assemble in the parking lot of Legion Bowl and the Pub on Park at around 10 a.m. before stepping off between 10:15 and 10:30.
The parade will travel west on Park Avenue, take a left at Hayward Street, continue onto Pontiac Avenue, and then proceed up Rolfe Square for the speaking program. McAuley said he anticipates the activities concluding before or around noon.
Among the participants at this point are the Cranston High School East and West bands and color guards, the Cranston Police and Fire honor guards, the Cranston Rotary Club, Special Olympics Rhode Island, local Boy and Cub Scouts, the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, local elementary school students, a local children’s dance group, and Billy DeAngelus from Twin Oaks, who will drive an antique fire truck.
One “really cool” feature of the parade, McAuley said, will be an enormous American flag that has been used at Gillette Stadium. The flag will separate the two divisions and be carried by 40 high school football players – 20 each from East and West.
Veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam have committed to take part in the parade, McAuley said, and RIPTA will provide a trolley in which former service members can ride along the route.
“We’re blessed that we still have some World War II veterans among us … It’s important that we get this back as soon as possible,” he added.
All of the city’s former mayors have been invited to participate, McAuley said, while members of the City Council, School Committee and General Assembly will also join in. At the conclusion of the parade route, a brief speaking program will be held, with former mayor Michael Traficante serving as the emcee. Hopkins will also address the crowd, and a wreath will be laid on the memorial.
The featured speaker and grand marshal of the parade will be retired Army Lt. Col. David Accetta, an alumnus of Cranston West and the University of Rhode Island who served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Accetta has a long list of honors and accomplishments. According to a biography from URI’s Army ROTC program, he was assigned in 2004 to support the 60th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings and “made a historic parachute jump on one of the original drop zones.” Two years later, he became a charter member of Liberty Jump Team, a charitable group that honors veterans by recreating World War II-era parachute jumps.
“He has participated in the official French government D-Day commemorations in Normandy several times, jumping with the Liberty Jump Team at the original drop zones,” the biography reads.
Since 2010, Accetta has served on the URI ROTC Alumni Chapter Board of Directors. He is also a certified therapy dog handler who volunteers with the PVD Pups Airport Therapy Dog program at Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport.
McAuley acknowledged the scheduling of the parade might be difficult for some residents, given that it conflicts in part with the Park View Veterans Day 5K and other Veterans Day events around the state.
He said, however, that the administration felt it was important to hold the parade on Veterans Day itself.
“We’re sacrificing a few things to do it right on Veterans Day,” he said, adding: “For the most part, people are excited … People are ready for a parade. I think we need it.”
Going forward, McAuley said he and other officials hope to see the event grow and again become an annual tradition in Cranston.
“We’re doing baby steps this year, and hopefully we can just let it grow … I used to enjoy going there, taking the kids there, and now hopefully my grandkids can enjoy it,” he said.
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