Memorial Day

Fourth Patriotic Parade in Omaha  

Last week, Bill and Evonne Williams of Patriotic Productions, the organization that coordinated the historic Honor Flights, National Remembering Our Fallen display and more, were preparing for their Fourth Annual Patriotic Parade that began with a United States Air Force Flyover and wound through the Old Market in Omaha May 25. 

This year’s parade featured Gold Star Families, female athletes like the Super Novas and Parade Marshal Gov. Jim Pillen, Sen. Kathleen Kauth and Congressman Don Bacon on horseback among the marching area Legions and other veteran groups. Scott Frost’s mother Carol also walked the parade route in front of thousands of spectators.  

Bill Williams said he and Evonne initiated the annual parade to ensure the younger generation learns about the history of the United States, veterans who served their country and to remind Americans about the importance of Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day. 

“Much of the media narrative has been horrible on what a hateful, racist place America is, but the vast majority don’t believe that. We’re the most generous and diverse people in the world,” Williams said. “We promote patriotism.” 

He encouraged Nebraskans and beyond to take one Saturday morning out of the year and show their patriotism. 

“That’s what we like and why we added the historical aspect to it. Come to the parade and understand how lucky you are to be an American,” Williams said. 

The parade is divided into decades and wars, and highlights the birth of the United States and westward expansion, portrayed by many participants in costume and groups like Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Fort Reilly Mounted Color Guard. 

“We have inventions, everything from the cotton gin to the Polaroid to the computer,” Williams explained. The parade is meant to be educational as he is a former teacher and coach in the Byron area. Evonne is originally from Byron.  

There were Civil War re-enactors, military jeeps, a replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and gigantic Purple Heart inflatable. 

Williams was also tickled about Carol Frost’s parade appearance because of Frost’s history as a world class athlete in discus and shot put. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Frost represented the US as the national champion in discus and earned the gold medal during the 1967 Pan American Games. After, she competed in the 1968 Olympics.

Frost was later the second head coach of the Husker women’s track and field program and went on to lead NU to its first-ever Big Eight championships. 

“We had her speak before Riley Gaines last year. She was unbelievable,” Williams said. “She is a Title IX trailblazer.” 

Pillen, Kauth, Bacon and Frost were accompanied by the UNL rodeo team in the parade.