Last year on Veterans Day, a social media post caught Brenda McPherson Mahoney’s attention. It asked why didn’t Murphy have a Veterans Day parade. She thought, if we want it, all we have to do is do it.
So she did.
The first Murphy Veterans Day Parade & Country Fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. She added the fair to the event after getting the idea to make the event a fundraiser for veterans service organizations that serve the area.
“I’m literally blown away by how big it has gotten,” she said. “It’s changed my life.”
In the last year, she started working with the Cherokee County Veterans Service Office, as well as several organizations, to make the event a reality. Her husband is a veteran, and she has other family members who are also veterans, but seeing the organizations helping fellow veterans has increased her appreciation for them.
“The idea really is to show our veterans our appreciation as much as possible,” she said.
The parade will start at 11 a.m. at the L&N Depot on Hiawassee Street in downtown Murphy as “Taps” is played in four locations throughout Murphy – in downtown (by event headliner Michael Hulett), at Konehete Park, at Band of Brothers Park and at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel.
“The hope is we’ll have ‘Taps’ playing all over the area,” Mahoney said.
The parade will be led by the local color guard, followed by Appalachian St. Andrew’s Pipes & Drums. The parade will also include the Murphy High School Marching Band as well as the National Veteran Resources Hero Mobile RV with founder Michele Ladd. There are more than 22 groups registered for the parade, and there will be prizes for those with the best float.
At Konehete Park, there will be a ceremony including the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence. At noon, the American Rock Club will start performing as spectators enjoy food being sold by various service organizations. Mountain Elite Cheer will provide fun activities for children.
The Tunnel Rats will take the stage at 2 p.m., while Hulett will return to perform his set at 4 p.m. Hulett plays a variety of instruments, including saxophone and trumpet, and can sing anything from Etta James to Prince.
“His music reaches everybody because he has such a range,” she said.
Mahoney said Hulett was perfect for the event because his music will appeal to many and he loves to give back.
“Michael is someone who gives to the community,” she said. “He has a servant’s heart.”
The fair will include 56 vendors, including the veteran service organizations. Money raised from vendor fees will be given to local veteran organizations. There are plans to raffle a patriotic quilt and gift certificates, and commemorative T-shirts and other items will also be available for purchase.
“It is our plan to continue this for many years,” Mahoney said, adding that she hopes some items will become things people collect each year.
She added that the event would not have been possible without the support of the community. The event is co-hosted by MOOG and has many local sponsors.
The event is expected to draw 2,500 people, about as many as Independence Day brings to the park each year. Overflow parking will be available at the Sav-a-Lot parking lot, where Cherokee County Transit will provide free shuttle service to and from the park from noon-5 p.m. If it rains Saturday, the parade and fair will be moved to Sunday, with all activities at the same times.
* Murphy Elementary School hosted its Veterans Day breakfast and program Wednesday.
* Peachtree Elementary School hosted a Veterans Day patriotic celebration Thursday at Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church.
* All Andrews schools will celebrate with a program beginning at 10 a.m. Friday in Andrews High School.
* Hiwassee Dam schools will host a program at 9 a.m. Friday in the Hiwassee Dam High School gym.
* Murphy middle and Murphy high schools will host a breakfast for veterans at 7:30 a.m. Friday, followed by a program in the Murphy High School gym.
* The Oaks Academy in Marble will welcome veterans for a breakfast at 9 a.m. Friday, followed by a short program.
* Ranger Elementary/Middle School will host a breakfast for veterans at
8 a.m. Friday in the school’s library. A patriotic program will begin at 9 a.m. in the gym.
* At Tri-County Early College High School in Peachtree, the Junior Civitan Club will present a ceremony at 9:45 a.m. Friday in the Enloe Multi-Purpose Room.
* To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, Post 532 is planning a special event at Western Carolina Regional Airport in Andrews. Opening ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with military flyovers, military bands, high school bands, honor guards, veteran services officers, industrial leaders, educational leaders, local singers, demonstrations, performers and food for everyone, thanks to Ivie Funeral Home and a chili cook-off with prizes. Everyone is invited to the free event.
* Townson-Rose Funeral Home will host its annual Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church. The ceremony will be followed by a barbecue lunch for everyone. All veterans, public servants and their spouses are invited to attend.