Submitted photo

By Allison Brown | November 4, 2021

The Daisy Mountain Veterans Parade returns to the streets Saturday, November 6, for its 17th year of celebrating and honoring veterans, active duty military and their families.

“We’re just happy that people are getting back to it and wanting to be a part of this again,” says Reagan Briggs, secretary for Daisy Mountain Veterans. “Having a year off of anything can be really devastating. We’ve seen so many not come back after COVID-19 and 2020. So, the fact that we’re still able to pull it off here and still able to support all the veterans is huge. This year’s sponsorship has been low as well.”

The event starts at 9 a.m. with a parachute jump by the Frog X team. They will land at the Anthem soccer fields and then greet children and parents. At 9:15, Frog X will walk the flag to the front of the parade route along with the children and their parents. During this time, the team will talk to the children about what it means to be in service. At 9:30, the parachute team will present the flag to the Sandra Day O’Connor Color Guard.

Then, a flyover by old wartime planes at 10 a.m. officially kicks off the parade. The route starts on the corner of Gavilan Peak Parkway and Memorial Drive and ends at the Anthem Community Center.

Each year, Daisy Mountain Veterans chooses a different group of service members to be highlighted. This year, the parade grand marshals will be from veterans that served, or are still serving, in the U.S. military during Operation Enduring Freedom — the global war on terrorism.

“Our grand marshals this year are going to be anyone who’s served from 9/11 to present day,” says Adriane Luczywko, marketing coordinator for the organization. “It’s just a great family event and opportunity to also show our youth what these veterans have done for us and what they’ve sacrificed.”

This event has grown from a small-town get-together to one of the most prestigious patriotic parades anywhere. It is the largest civilian-run parade west of the Mississippi River, meaning that those who choose to participate are volunteers using their own time and resources to make the event happen.

Briggs says they have more than 50 floats signed up and will continue to get more. Luczywko says they also rely on community partners like Doody Defense, who volunteers to clean the horse and dog droppings; Boy Scouts, who help put up flyers; local churches, who allow their parking lots to be used; the Anthem Country Club, who donates golf carts to be used and several others.

Briggs says she attended the first Daisy Mountain Veterans Parade as a child. Her dad is a Daisy Mountain Veterans member. She was a volunteer for 10 years before officially joining the board of directors this year. Briggs said the organization itself only has about 10 people who put everything together behind the scenes, which makes it a bit of a daunting task. But she followed that up and said while it is hard work, it is a job that should be done and that is well worth the effort.

“We all have a lot of time, a lot of energy and blood, sweat and tears in this,” Briggs says. “We are very happy to get this back and work hard doing so. We owe it to all those who served all of us to do something to celebrate. It’s a cause very near and dear to our hearts. Anything we can do we are more than happy to do. They deserve to be honored any and every day of the entire year, but if not, we’ve made one day very impactful.”

Luczywko says she also has military family members, and volunteers her time to make sure their sacrifices are recognized both now and in the future.

“For me, personally, I have a lot of veterans and some active duty members in my family. Remembering those people and showing them respect is something I grew up with. So, to me, that’s something I want to pass on to the generation behind me,” she says.

“Then I also see the struggles of veterans today and we see a lot of veterans and families struggling. They don’t make a lot of money, a lot of them have PTSD and I think we should really make sure that we take care of them and we don’t forget about them.”

Daisy Mountain Veterans was established because there was not an organization in the area that united veterans or current active duty military members who had shared experiences. It grew to serve north Phoenix, Desert Hills, Anthem, New River and Black Canyon. Luczywko said the annual parade means a great deal to these veterans and has also become a staple for the community.

“It’s a huge deal to them. We reach a lot of veterans in and around our community,” she says. “Then other people just come to enjoy the parade and it’s become something they do with their families. A lot of people in Anthem, if you ask them if they have been to the parade, they say, ‘Yes, we go every year.’”

The event is free and open to the public. Families are encouraged to get there early for a good view of the Frog X parachute jump and are recommended to gather around the west edge of the Anthem soccer field on Gavilan Peak Parkway. Other than that, Briggs said to sit back and enjoy the day.

“Bring your chair, bring anything you need, bring your friends and family and be ready to have a really great time and to honor those who served and who are currently serving for our country,” Briggs says.

Daisy Mountain Veterans Parade

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, November 6 (parade at 10 a.m.)

Where: Starts at the corner of Gavilan Peak Parkway and Memorial Drive, ends at the Anthem Community Center

Cost: Free