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For another year running, the highlight of Vandalia’s annual Prairie Days parade was an elaborate salute to area veterans.
Some 72 bikers from as far south as Jefferson City to Quincy, Ill., escorted 55 veterans of Vandalia, Farber, Laddonia, and Perry down the parade route along S. Main Street on Saturday, September 22.
The veteran’s float stopped before the intersection of S. Main Street and State Street, at which time the Van-Far Marching Band performed the national anthem in salute to the veterans.
Mike Culwell, participating biker and organizer for the tribute in the parade at Vandalia, said if veterans had not done the service that they performed, the freedoms we have today wouldn’t exist.
“Any biker you ask will tell you the same thing,” Culwell said in reference to the bikers that escorted the veterans in the parade. “We’re just a bunch of bikers that want to pay our dues.”
“We just want to thank the veterans for riding with us, we don’t expect thanks. We feel like it’s something we need to do.”
The amount of veterans and bikers at this year’s Prairie Days parade was about three-times more than had participated in last year’s parade.
Culwell said the influx of participation was due to invites to all area veterans serving in wars both past and present.
He said that the salute can be expected next year and well into the future.
“Absolutely, we hope we can keep growing,” Culwell said.