Flags were flying and bands were marching as thousands gathered the streets of downtown Rutland Sunday afternoon.
The 50th Annual Loyalty Day Parade is held to honor the men and women who have served and continue to serve the country -- a day filled with giving thanks to those present and remembering those who are not.
"It does make you proud to be an American," said local veteran Ralph Nichols. "Proud to serve a country."
The parade is sponsored by the local VFW chapter and members have been planning the event since early November. Coordinator Sam Gorruso says it is a day to show loyalty to all veterans. "So we try not to forget anyone. This of course covers Korea and World War. II and I'm not sure if there are any living members of VFW from World War I, but there will be Vietnam veterans and Korean veterans here today, and we honor all of them," he said.
The two hour event was filled with music, fire and police departments from the area and many other organizations. And even a few surprises here and there.
Event coordinators say there is only one parade rule -- no politics or campaigning allowed. The tradition has lasted for half of a century, which makes this parade one of the biggest and longest standing events in the state. "Rutland has been the one that has endured and has been the only one to continue -- and other veteran organizations come to Rutland from throughout the state to participate in this particular day here in Rutland," Gorruso said.
And many attendees are loyal to the parade itself -- like E.J. Willis -- who set up hours before the event in the same spot she has sat for years. "This is probably our 6th or 7th year of attending the Loyalty Day Parade. We come to support our country, our troops, our community," she said.
A day filled with supporting the red, white and blue.