VIRGINIA CITY - "Thank you for being there!" a parade watcher yelled at a passing car driven by World War II submarine veterans. "God bless you!"
Honorees wearing caps, jackets, medals and uniforms quietly walked down C Street Tuesday past locals and visitors who lined the streets of Virginia City on Tuesday morning to honor and thank those who fought for their country.
Ushered in by Storey County sheriff's car with sirens blazing, the annual Veteran's Day parade drew a larger crowd than last year, leaving space on the worn wooden sidewalks scarce.
A slight breeze accompanied the bright and fresh fall morning that invited people to hold onto coffee cups and snack on treats bought at the open candy stores and shops along C Street.
"I'm impressed with how many people are here," said Maryellen Eisenhauer, of Carson City, who attends the parade every year with her husband, Jim, and friends Sue and John Smith of Minden. The men are World War II veterans and their wives joke they might get a float together for next year's parade as "Wives of World War II Vets."
"This means a lot, it really does," said Jim Eisenhauer about Veterans Day. He served in the Navy and was in boot camp when combat ended. His family always celebrated the day when he was growing up, he said.
The couples prefer to celebrate the patriotic event in the small historic mining town instead of Reno where "the big bands are," they said.
"It's like a hometown parade and I like that," Eisenhauer said.
A flock of birds flew overhead as parade grand marshal Master Sgt. Bob Russell with the U.S. Marines drove by the grandstand.
The Incline Village Highlanders Top Guns Jr. ROTC group and band energized the crowd during the event with flags of different nations and a drill display. Other ROTC groups represented Carson City and Churchill County.
The parade also included a visit by Miss Nevada, Christina O'Neil, Veteran's of Foreign Wars associations from Dayton and Verdi, United Vets of Churchill Co., Pearl Harbor survivors and other community groups. Many were cheered as they walked past. Children scrambled to pick up candies tossed out of cars and a Storey County fire truck.
Veterans walking or riding in the parade were treated to "thank you's" and words of praise by some in the crowd who stood a few feet away.
The small-town atmosphere was quiet and reverent with patriotic tunes filtering through from bells tolled at St. Mary of the Mountains Catholic Church. A trombone played by a member of the Korean War Vets Association of Nevada 198 and the Incline Village band offered bursts of American sounds.
Vietnam veteran Jerry Murphy, of Carson City, comes to the parade every year, he said. He volunteered to serve in 1970 when he was 19. He served in the U.S. Army in air mobile reconnaissance for the 101st Airborne Division.
Working in computer graphics now, Murphy's employer didn't grant the holiday and he had to take a vacation day to be able to recognize the occasion. He also planned to attend a tree planting dedication at the Veteran's Memorial in Mills Park later that day.
"It's nice to be around people who appreciate," Murphy said. "I really appreciate it that people take the day off."
Jonathan West, 15, of Fallon marched in the parade as a member of the Churchill County Jr. ROTC.
"I think it's a great experience to come here and represent our country," West said. "It's pretty nice having actual veterans be around. It's really nice to be around them."
A family from Kenya who moved to Reno four months ago decided to visit the area for the day.
"We decided to come and participate and be in the same spirit as everyone else," said Alex Osamya, who came to teach at the University of Nevada, Reno. His children, Melissa and Melvin, learned about the day at school and taught their parents the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
"I got to learn from them," he said.
Stanley Rohrbacher, 5, of South Lake Tahoe said his favorite part of the parade was watching the sporty cars go by. His brother, George, 3, liked the music.
"They looked cool all right," Stanley said.
He and his mom talked about what a veteran was the day before.
"They fix people's arms in the war and they fight," Stanley said.