Armed Forces Torchlight Parade happening Saturday in downtown Spokane
High school marching bands, military veterans and active service members will march through downtown Spokane on Saturday evening during the 81st annual Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.
The parade, which caps the Spokane Lilac Festival, will begin at 7:45 p.m. at the intersection of Washington Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard.
From there, the parade will head south toward Washington and First Avenue, then zigzag between Post and Stevens streets before finishing back on Spokane Falls Boulevard.
Lead parade organizer Dan Ver Heul said this year’s event will feature 21 floats, 48 bands and 35 veterans groups.
It will follow several other Lilac Festival events on Saturday.
Under the freeway bridge at Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street, people can check out the parade floats up close from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At 10:30 a.m., there will be a rose planting ceremony at the Manito Park rose garden.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors can check out vintage cars at the Cruizin’ the Falls Car Show along Spokane Falls Boulevard.
And from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., a fleet of food trucks will be offering snacks for sale on the Howard Street bridge in Riverfront Park.
Ver Heul said those planning to attend the parade should bring coats and blankets, as Saturday evening is expected to be cool.
Many will reserve spots along the parade route by setting up lawn chairs ahead of the event. Downtown parking will be limited, so Ver Heul recommends carpooling or taking a Spokane Transit Authority bus.
Ver Heul said his favorite part of the parade is when he gets to greet each participant crossing the starting line.
“I take a lot of pride in being able to meet those people at the starting line, shake their hands and thank them for their service,” he said.
The Spokane Police Department said it will have a uniformed officer or police volunteer stationed at every intersection along the parade route. Fire department paramedics also will be working in the area.
The police department urged attendees not to leave children, purses and valuables unattended, and to be cautious around traffic and report any suspicious activity. Open containers of alcohol won’t be permitted at the parade, nor will pets. Service animals are allowed.
“This is a fun event for families and people of all ages,” police Chief Craig Meidl said in a news release. “By working together with the community, we can ensure the Lilac Parade remains a safe and enjoyable event to honor our armed forces.”