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Organizers cancel Columbus Veterans' Day Parade for 2023 amid low attendance

The new National Veterans Memorial And Museum.
Daniel Konik
Ohio Public Radio

The 2023 Columbus Veterans' Day parade has been canceled this year.

Parade organizers with the Military/Veterans Educational Foundation, or MILVETS, posted a statement announcing the parade's cancellation this year. The statement said the cancellation is part of a larger trend of low attendance or fewer corporate donors for the parade.

"Unfortunately, some of the adverse impacts of COVID-19 have continued. We have experienced a major decrease in corporate financial support and attendance at our events, especially the Veterans' Day Parade," the statement said.

MILVETS incoming co-president Carrie Killingsworth told WOSU the organization still gets a lot of community support and she expects the parade to return next year. Killingsworth said cancelling the parade has been rare in the past.

"Other than like severe weather, there's really not been parades canceled. So to not be able to continue that tradition, it's not fun. It's disappointing. And the reality is people aren't coming to parades downtown," Killingsworth said.

Killingsworth said a lot of people aren't coming to downtown Columbus anymore and this is exasperated by the continuation of work-from-home policies for downtown agencies and organizations. The parade is typically held on a Friday, so it doesn't interfere with other smaller parades over the weekend, Killingsworth said.

The statement said the organizations troubles aren't impacting its scholarship opportunities for ROTC members and veterans and Killingsworth said MILVETS still plans to hold other events honoring veterans in the next year, like the Armed Forces Day Luncheon in May.

Killingsworth said people in Columbus can thank veterans on Nov. 11 by going to suburban parades, attending events at the National Veterans Memorial Museum and voting next week.

"We have a lot of strong support in our community. There's no doubt about that. However, at the end of the day, putting on the parade is money. And I mean, it takes a lot of money to put on a parade," Killingsworth said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.