M.V. Honors Its Veterans

The Moapa Valley honored its veterans in a grand style last week as a huge crowd (for Moapa Valley) gathered in downtown Overton to watch the Veteran’s Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 11.

Nearly 50 entrants marched, cruised, rode, trotted, danced and cheered down Moapa Valley Blvd. between Anderson Street and Perkins Ave in Overton. A couple entries even flew over the scene. That was more than twice the number of entrants that participated in the 2020 parade.

All of this added up to, what many people called, one of the best Veteran’s Day Parades that the community has ever seen on main street.

“I think it might have been the biggest turnout ever that we have had for a parade,” said local veteran Bryant Robison who served as Grand Marshall in this year’s parade.

Robison would certainly know! He has spent most of his nearly 90 years living in Moapa Valley. During his professional career he owned and operated a number of important local businesses. These included an equipment business, a construction company, and the first real estate sales office in Moapa Valley.

Through these businesses, Robison was instrumental in the development of a large part of the Moapa Valley.

Of the small timeframe of his younger life that he did not reside in Moapa Valley, two years were spent in service to his country between 1952 and 1954. Serving in the U.S. Army in Korea, Robison spent several months as a combat soldier during some of the heaviest fighting of the War. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor during his service.

“It was an honor to be in the parade this year,” Robison said. “It was a good parade and everyone felt pretty good about it.”

Just ahead of Robison was the Metropolitan Police Department vehicles clearing the way for the parade. They were followed by VFW Color Guard, marching the U.S. Flag at the head of the parade. The crowd rose and saluted as they passed by.

The VFW state quartermaster Bruce Hollinger, of Logandale; and the VFW Post 8336 Commander Stirling Akers followed the Grand Marshall in the parade, waving to the crowd as they went by.
In an interview with The Progress, Akers said that he and his fellow veterans were overwhelmed with the show of support from the community toward the parade.

“We just looked out there at all this crowd along the street and wondered where in the world did all these people come from?” Akers said. “I think we had a much bigger crowd than most of the other parades in bigger cities around us. And, once again, I just felt how happy I am to be a part of this community!”

Stirling spent 15 years in the U.S. Army between 1968 and 1983. He served in a communications unit in Vietnam early on in that service.

Akers gave special appreciation to Overton resident Lori Houston, who is a local realtor and a member of the VFW Auxiliary organization. Houston did a lot of the groundwork in coordinating the parade.
“Lori did a fantastic job of organizing this event,” Akers said. “We had a lot of entries and they just kept coming. And she managed all of them amazingly well.”

Houston got involved in the parade last year when, amid the COVID pandemic, it was feared that the parade might be discontinued. Houston got involved as part of the VFW Auxiliary and guided the event through the necessary permitting process.

As a member of the MV Chamber of Commerce, Houston also gathered support from the Chamber to pay the permitting fees for the parade.

“As I told the Chamber Board what all has been involved with permitting all these years, they just thought it was crazy that the veterans have been paying for the parade that has been honoring them on Veterans Day all these years,” Houston said. “So the board decided that the Chamber would pay for the permits and the event insurance for the parade.”

Immediately following the VFW group was a large entry from the Southern Paiute Veterans Association. On one vehicle, a large number of Paiute veterans rode proudly. Following that were other vehicles carrying members of the Moapa Band of Paiutes expressing appreciation and support to all veterans of all military branches. Included in this group were native dancers dressed in the colorful traditional regalia marching down the street.

The Moapa Valley High School band was missed in this year’s parade. But the MVHS Cheerleading squad did make an appearance with coaches Desi Stastny and Cyndi Graham.

The Mack Lyon Cheerleaders and the Lyon Marin-ettes dance team both participated in the parade as well.

Fortunately, the parade did not go without a marching band. A 58-member marching band from Cheyenne High School travelled out from Las Vegas to participate. Along with them came the school’s Army ROTC unit, nearly double the size of the band, which marched proudly ahead.

The Cheyenne High School group has become a regular component to the annual Moapa Valley parade. “Their Sergeant Major told me that they love coming out here to our parade,” Houston said. He told me that they could choose to march in any parade, but they specifically come here because of the experience it offers.”

Another ROTC unit also came from Las Vegas to march in Overton. The 158-member junior ROTC from Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy made Overton their very first parade appearance ever.

A long lineup of local businesses and organizations filled out the parade with a grand pageant of floats, classic vehicles, heavy equipment, equestrian entries, ATVs, and much more. No kid in attendance, that wanted it, went without candy as it was thrown plentifully from all of the various entries.

The announcer’s booth was centrally located at the intersection of Virginia Ave. where the voices of Rick Houston and Kasen Kolhoss could be heard introducing each entry as it passed by.
Above the parade route, local pilots Greg Witter and Tim DeBerardinis from the Perkins Field Flying Club made two passes in formation which provided added interest and excitement to the event.

Toward the end of the parade, Amy Johnson and her family came through with wheelbarrows to provide the very important service of cleaning up the streets after the horses.

The parade had its traditional end with the many vehicles and equipment of the Moapa Valley Fire District rolling down the main street.

Immediately following the parade, the traditional community lunch was served in the Overton Park. Taking turns on the microphone at the picnic was Dr. Brett Staley of Moapa Valley Chiropractic, and the well-known Biker Bob Kuczera.

The two showed the love to local veterans by making sure that the veterans got the first place in the food line. They also worked through a long litany of drawings for a variety of door prizes provided by Kuzcera and the Middle East Conflict Wall which he helped to establish near Chicago.

The meal of grilled hamburgers and all the fixings was provided by the Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce. The burgers were grilled up by the MV Rotary Club and served to the public by youth volunteers from the Moapa Valley FFA Chapter.

“It is just amazing, how much community effort that goes into making something like this a success,” said Lori Houston. “There were so many people who were on board and helped out and a long list of volunteers that can’t possibly all be named. But I just want to express appreciation to all of them. They are what makes this community great.”