SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WSBT) — For the first time in three years, South Bend will have its Westside Memorial Day Parade.
It's a tradition for the city's west side, honoring veterans lost with a parade.
It's taken a lot of time and hard work to see it return.
While the corner of Ford Street and Lombardy Drive may be lined with cars now, Monday morning, it will be the start of the 2023 South Bend Westside Memorial Day Parade.
It was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID, and in 2022 due to a lack of volunteers.
"This is something I’ve been to my entire life and been involved with for about 7 or 8 years now and it was hard. I felt like a failure,” said Katie Reaves, Parade Marshall.
Reaves says the three years without the parade were tough.
Not only because it was a tradition, but because the community wasn't able to honor the veterans it lost.
She says in January of this year she knew she needed to get ahead to make sure it would happen.
"We posted flyers at all the social clubs we blasted all over Facebook just to say like 'we need help’ everybody that made a comment on social media about what a shame it was - we took down their name and we sent them a message and said here's your chance to not make it a shame," said Reaves.
Reaves says about 50 people came to that first meeting.
She's also had a lot of help from 6th District Councilwoman and veteran Sheila Niezgodski, along with the city.
The parade will begin near Navarre Middle School and stretch to Ford and Olive Streets.
That's about 17 blocks, making it one of the longest parades in South Bend.
Marching bands, local athletic teams and a fly-over by World War II planes are among the 70 entries. Which will be led by South Bend's VFW Post #9820.
A job veterans there say they're honored to do.
"I’ve seen young kids stand up when we walk by, or the flags walk by. Old veterans in wheelchairs, they have stood up and saluted,” said Roger Barclay, Quartermaster of the Post VFW Post #9820.
Barclay says it's all about what the parade stands for.
"Every Memorial Day is important to me. cause I’ve seen it I’ve lived through it this is our special day to pay tribute to the ones, this is what we do,” said Barclay.
Organizers of what will be the 97th Westside Memorial Day Parade say the accomplishment feels good.
"South Bend wants this. South Bend needs this. It’s important and I can't wait to see everybody out there. It's back!!" said Reaves.
The parade starts at 8:15 a.m., but organizers recommend getting your seat before 8.