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Veterans Day drive-by parade planned for Nov. 10

BY BROOKE R. CANTRELLE

L’OBSERVATEUR

 

VETERANS: Community is welcome to join parade

 

RESERVE —COVID-19 has stolen a lot from the 87 residents of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve, including precious time with their loved ones.

But the virus won’t steal Veterans Day and all the love, respect and shows of appreciation that come with it.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, cars will line up down REGALA Park Road for a drive through parade around the Veterans Home. Residents will watch the parade from a safe distance on the sidewalks as they enjoy a sweet celebration and inch ever closer to the end of 2020.

The Veterans Home in Reserve was hit especially hard at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the end of March to mid May, 80 residents of the home tested positive, and 28 passed away from complications of the virus, according to a report from the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

Thankfully, there haven’t been positive cases in the home in a number of months, and residents were able to resume outdoor visitation with social distancing at the end of September. Still, residents have not been able to experience tight hugs or the personal interaction they were accustomed to before the pandemic.

Allan Reynaud of American Legion Post 383 said the circumstances surrounding this year make it more important than ever to thank the veterans for their service.

American Legion is at the forefront of annual Veterans Day parades that traditionally begin in LaPlace and lead to a celebration at the home in Reserve.

“The parade this year is a little more limited than it’s been in the past, but I’m tickled that we are able to work this out. It’s become a tradition in St. John Parish to do the parade and honor the veterans at the home, and I think it’s important for their morale,” Reynaud said. “With everything that has happened this year, they’ve been in a tough place as residents without being able to see anyone except staff. For a while, they were restricted to their rooms. They were not able to see family. It’s been hard on all of us, but it’s extremely hard on those people.”

Community members are welcome to join the drive through parade Tuesday afternoon. Please do not bring throws, and participants must remain in their vehicles at all times.

Reynaud said those who can’t make it to the parade can still support the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home with snack donations needed year round. Residents enjoy crackers, cookies, candy, soft drinks and fresh fruit, excluding grapes, which can be a choking hazard. Watermelon is a big hit among residents, Reynaud said.

To take the show of gratitude one step further, Reynaud wants to gift all of the Veterans Home residents with new caps personalized to reflect the wars they served in.

This will be made possible with a donation from St. John District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut, who is part of the American Legion Post 383 Ladies Auxiliary.

“It was just an extra token of love, respect and appreciation for their service,” Dinvaut said. “I’m a member of the Ladies Auxiliary for the American Legion. Being a member of that and working with Allan and his wife, Tobi, I’m just a big supporter of the Veterans Home, all of the veterans and the Young Marines.”

Dinvaut said revitalizing the local unit of the Young Marines will be one of her priorities going into 2021. The group is still in search of a director with a passion for helping the youth.

“It provides so many opportunities and so much exposure for our young people, not to mention crime prevention,” Dinvaut said. “We want to get that unit back up and running.”

Reynaud said the St. John the Baptist Parish community is supportive of veterans.

“We wish we could have a normal Veterans Day. If everyone who sees a veteran would just say thank you, it would mean an awful lot,” Reynaud said. “Honestly, around the parish I have found when I am out and about with my veterans shirt or veterans hat, I get a lot of that.”