A weekend celebration in Apache Junction brought together the community to honor its many veterans with a parade and festival downtown.
Hosted by Elks Lodge B.P.O.E. #2349, the 2017 Apache Junction All-American Veterans Parade kicked off at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 11 with fly-overs by F-35A and F-18 jets from Luke Air Force Base followed by the “Sentimental Journey” B-17 from the Commemorative Air Force in Mesa.
The parade was led by Ladder Truck 263 from Superstition Fire & Medical District followed by honored veterans, including Grand Marshals Lee Jones, Army Air Corps; Bob Phillips, United States Marine Corps; and Denny Walter, United States Army. Local Purple Heart chapter members were also honored with a float.
According to Elks 2349, a total of 60 parade entries (the largest veteran parade so far) included the VFW chapters, area Scout troops, JROTC color guards, school bands, associations and neighborhood businesses.
Following the parade down Apache Trail, the community gathered at Flatiron Park for the 2017 Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Festival of the Superstitions.
The Festival began with a stirring Veterans Day tribute honoring men and women who have sacrificed and served our country.
Organized and presented by VFW Post 7968, the community was introduced to Maggie DeSanti, U.S. Army; Russ Purnell, U.S. Marines; Gary Wright, U.S. Navy; Roy Hieb, U.S. Air Force, and Roy Kimball, U.S. Coast Guard.
DeSanti served as a flight nurse and is considered a hero to our heros. She was presented with a Quilt of Valor created by Jan Snyder of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
The Festival of the Superstitions continued on Saturday into the evening and opened again on Sunday. The Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce and the City of Apache Junction organized many activities for all ages with the help of sponsors, local businesses, and volunteers.
At this year’s festival, activities included the SFMD Fire Safety House, obstacle course inflatables, a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, walking on water game, pie eating contests, beverage garden, 70+ vendors, food trucks, raffles and a movie on the big screen.
Local artists Jeff Gravely, Barleens Dinner Show, Lee Alexander Productions, Full Circle Gospel, Filly’s Idol, Ricky Ricci and David Barker entertained the community with music from the stage. Almost $1500 was raised at the car show on Sunday to benefit the Apache Junction Community Veteran’s Center.
Many generous community groups, volunteers and businesses helped make the Veterans Day weekend a success. Photographer Jack Olson contributed the wonderful images featured below.