Parade organizers plan special honor for veteran
The Leavenworth County Veterans Day parade, the nation’s oldest Veterans Day observance, is observing its 90th year this year, but parade organizers are paying tribute to one veteran in particular.
The late Alfredo Padilla has been selected as parade grand marshal. This will be the first time the parade’s grand marshal has not been present, but the memories of Padilla and the lives he touched during his time in Leavenworth will be palpable.
“He was very community oriented,” said Diane Smith, secretary of the Leavenworth County Veterans Day parade committee. “He was a hard worker.”
Padilla’s family will represent him at the parade, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, in downtown Leavenworth.
Padilla, a Korean War veteran, died Oct. 3, 2009, after a battle with cancer. Smith said much of Padilla’s life was spent giving back to his community, especially when it came to his involvement with the military.
Smith said Padilla was the founding member of the current Leavenworth County parade committee, serving on the committee for 48 years.
His biggest contribution, however, came from the American Legion Baseball Program in Leavenworth.
“He got (American Legion baseball) going (in Leavenworth),” Smith said. “He made sure that the kids got involved in the game.”
Padilla ran the program for 37 years and developed the annual American Legion Baseball Season Booklet, which he continued to hand-deliver to area business sponsors until his passing.
On June 1, 1997, the main playing field at the Leavenworth Sports Field Complex was named Padilla Field in his honor.
Following the parade at an annual reception, located at 418 Cherokee St., Leavenworth, Padilla’s family will be presented with two awards to honor Padilla’s contributions. Fort Leavenworth will present the “Commander's Award for Public Service” and the parade committee will present a “Distinguished Service Award.”
Honoring Padilla is just one way the parade committee plans to follow this year’s parade theme, which is “America — Thanks to Veterans.”
Parade participants have been asked to decorate their floats according to the theme as well.
The parade route will start at 4th and Cherokee streets and head east to Esplanade, then north to Delaware, west to 7th Street, south to Cherokee and finally east on Cherokee to 5th Street, where the parade will disband.
The parade will stop at 11 a.m. for the playing of “Taps” and a flyover by Leavenworth native Lt. Col. Grant Gooch with the Iowa Air National Guard.