Excitement builds in Huntsville as Veterans Day events unfold

Excitement builds in Huntsville as Veterans Day events unfold
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)

Huntsville's renowned Veterans Day events are in full swing after months of planning and hundreds of man hours.

It all leads up to the parade downtown, and this year, organizers say it's going to be bigger and better than ever.

On Friday, the stage and tables were set for the sold out Veterans Dinner in Huntsville.

[READ MORE: 2017 Veterans Day Parade route & lineup]

"It's the biggest culmination event before the parade and that's tonight at the Von Braun Civic Center," said Max Bennett, chairman of the 2017 Huntsville Madison County Veterans Week Activities. "It's been sold out for a week. It's a very exciting time with 600-700 people here tonight. we're inducting local heroes into the Madison County Hall of Heroes that you can see down at the courthouse. Also, we're having Purple Heart recipients put on the Purple Heart honor roll, which is also down at the courthouse."

On Saturday morning, thousands will take part in the Veterans Day parade, which is the second largest in the country.

There are a record-breaking 160+ entries this year.

Early Saturday morning, Monroe Street will close in front of Veterans Memorial Park for parade set up. Then other roads will start closing around 10 a.m. Planning started six months ago, and hundreds of volunteers are involved.

"We've got the Warrant Officers Association, the Sergeants Major Association, the Association of the United States Army, the North Alabama Veterans Coalition. We have all of these big organizations and they get all of their people energized. They come out and start getting things set up. Everyone has a little tiny piece and when you see it all come together, it's going to be amazing," Bennett said.

This year, the parade will go up Church Street instead of passing by the Von Braun Center.

"So if you have an event there, you'll be able to get into the parking garages and do the things you normally do at the VBC," Bennett added.

Warren Schmitt, a World War II veteran, said it means a lot to him to see people uniting to mark Veterans Day.

"It's wonderful that the community is interested in the veterans to the point where they're recognizing them and honoring them," said Schmitt. "It's a very special occasion for me. I just love it."

The parade starts at 11 a.m.

You can watch in WAFF 48 News. We'll also stream it online.

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