OGDEN -- Dennis Howland's last shot at a Veterans Day parade will be his biggest, but he doesn't sound sorry to be wrapping things up.
He took point. He got it going. There are plenty ready to take over.
He's got a dozen or so people working on various aspects of this year's parade, which will have nearly 80 entries and 2,500 people. Quite the change from 22 entries and 900 people marching down Ogden's rain-swept and cold 25th Street six years ago.
The fact that even that many marched in that first parade was a miracle.
"That first year (2006) three of us came up with the idea and two of us put it together," he said, "And I don't know how we did it, because we made that decision six weeks out."
Many guys in VFW Post 1481 told them it couldn't be done, he said, and grinned. They got it lashed together somehow.
Ogden, and much of Utah, hadn't seen anything resembling a Veterans Day parade for more than 50 years. Howland decided one was needed and started making phone calls. They held the parade, followed by a patriotic ceremony in Lindquist Field.
That first year was not without challenges. The weather was cold and rainy. Howland misjudged how long it would take to get the parade over to Lindquist Field. The helicopter that landed in the field got stuck because of the weather.
The parade started at 9 a.m. but moved fast and was over by 10 a.m.
That meant participants and spectators had to sit in the cold and rain for an hour waiting for the 11:11 a.m. flyover by the Air Force.
The 11:11 time is significant. Veterans Day is descended from Armistice Day, a celebration of the end of fighting in World War I. That Armistice went into effect on Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., often referred to as the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
The parade in Ogden tries to honor that. This year's Veterans Day parade will kick off Nov. 10 at 11:11 a.m.
Each year the parade honors a specific group of veterans as grand marshals. Last year's were Vietnam vets, so this year's are all veterans who served between 1975 and 9/11.
Howland said it was tough to pick a group this year. After Vietnam, but before 9-11, there was Bosnia, the Granada invasion, Lebanon, the Panama Canal and the Gulf War.
It was hard to single out one, so organizers decided to pick the whole era. And while Howland said this particular group will be the grand marshals, he really wants all veterans, of any age and any war, any peacetime service, to know they're welcome.
Any veteran who shows up at the parade on Nov. 10, he said, they can march.
"The thing I really want to stress is the parade is for all veterans, not just combat," he said.
"From the oldest to the youngest. We've had people who want to walk in the parade carrying a picture of their soldiers who have died, and we welcome that."
"All veterans are invited. If they can't walk the parade route, we have rides," he said.
He said Bubba's Trailers is donating several trailers.
"Leave no vet behind," he said.
This year's parade will have several changes from previous years.
First, this year's parade will march north on Washington Boulevard from 31st Street to 23rd Street, then west to Lindquist Field. Previous parades marched South from 20th Street, but Howland said the parade has grown so long that it needs more room to get organized.
There will be floats in this year's parade. Howland said he created four categories -- youth organization, community non-veteran, military and overall patriotic -- in an effort to broaden the parade so people don't think it is just about old soldiers.
In that same vein, he's inviting young people, ages 12 to 18, to carry flags in the parade.
"My thinking is, you get young people involved, you get the parents involved," he said. "I wanted to get it away from just veterans and military and former military and more community."
The young people will march in a solid unit. So far, he said, he has 200, and more are welcome.
Howland said he's recommending that this is the last year they hold a patriotic ceremony at Lindquist Field.
This is purely out of consideration for the many elderly veterans who come to the parades, he said. The weather is sometimes bad on parade day, and it's hard to ask old people to sit in the cold.
This year's patriotic ceremony will mirror past ones, with a fallen soldier ceremony and speeches by military officials. About 45 new recruits to various branches of the military will be sworn in.
"But the biggest thing is simply to show community support behind veterans," he said.
In addition to the parade, there is also a ball on Nov. 9, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Ogden Eagles building, 945 Wall Ave. It is $25 a couple, best dress, with a swing band and dancing from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Howland said anyone who needs more information about putting entrants in the parade, either floats, marching units or children to carry flags, can call him at 801-389-1893.
The parade is put on entirely with funds raised by members of Post 1481, so he said anyone who wants to donate to help is also welcome.