Sunday, May 3 — One of Rutland’s most noteworthy annual events, the 52nd annual Loyalty Day parade will be held on Sunday, May 3 at 2 p.m. in downtown Rutland, sponsored by Rutland County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 648. Loyalty Day grew out of a VFW campaign to counter the labor movement’s celebration of strikes in Chicago that began May 1, 1886, and culminated in the May 3-4 Haymarket Affair and subsequent labor riots.
Loyalty Day parades were popular around the country after President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation to establish the day’s official observance of Loyalty Day in 1958. Unlike Memorial or Veterans Day, that honor those who fought in wars, Loyalty Day, proclaimed as May 1 but celebrated on the first Sunday of the month, instead honors men and women who have served and/or are serving their country.
Because Rutland is the only Vermont community to continue this tradition, veterans units from all over the state come to Rutland for the two-hour parade. Joining them are school bands, fire and police departments, and other groups, including an enthusiastic contingent of Shriners, zipping along the parade route in clown cars. This year, the governor also plans to take part.
Parade organizers make only one caveat: there may be no political or advertising messages.