Allen County and vicinity will observe Memorial Day in many ways this weekend.

A Friday night “watch fire” kicks off a busy weekend at the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum in Fort Wayne.

The Allen County Council of Veterans Organizations again has organized a Memorial Day parade for 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Check out details below:

• Veterans National Memorial Shrine & Museum, 2122 O’Day Road, will begin the 33rd annual “watch fire” at 6 p.m. Friday. The observance honors fallen heroes. Logs are put on the fire to honor all those who served for our freedom and died.

The tradition dates back to Gen. George Washington who used the fires to alert his troops of enemy positions. Watch fires were used during the Revolutionary War to alert lost or wounded troops on where to find medical help and friendly shelter from the enemy.

Roy Vierck, organizer of the event, said, “This annual event is very popular with veterans of all wars. Family members may have a soldier’s name read at the dedication by submitting their veteran’s name to our website prior to the event.”

The ceremony will kick off at 6 p.m. and logs remembering veterans will be placed at the ceremonial fire ring for a full 24-hour period, ending at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 29. The public is welcome to attend.

On Saturday, May 29, at 11 a.m. the Vietnam Wall will be dedicated at the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum. Special events include dedication speakers, a special presentation, a flag raising (with flags donated by the Air Force Association Chapter 143); helicopter rides, and Vietnam re-enactors.

Two Huey helicopters from the 369th Helicopter Squadron of Peru will arrive late on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, guests will be able to purchase a ride on one of the helicopters or tour the other helicopter, which will remain on the ground. Helicopter rides cost $100 per ride.

Meals will be served Saturday and Sunday from noon-6 p.m. (or until food runs out). For $10, one meal will include a Liberty Dog or Freedom Cheeseburger, choice of chips, potato salad, and a drink. All proceeds will go to the Memorial Shrine and Museum.

On Saturday, special entertainment will be given by Big D and the Penetrators from 3-6 p.m. On Sunday, gospel/country/Elvis impersonator Todd Allen Herendeen will be onstage from noon-3 p.m.

• The Allen County Council of Veterans Organizations Memorial Day Parade will line up at 9:30 a.m. Monday at Bob Arnold Drive and Parnell Avenue. This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Fallen Vietnam Veterans.”

Opening events for the parade start at 11 a.m. and wreath laying, taps, and remembrance of fallen brothers and sisters-in-arms will occur after the parade at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The parade includes many local civic and veteran groups.

• The New Haven American Legion Post will conduct a ceremony Monday at Schnelker Park, 956 Park Ave., New Haven.

It starts at 9:15 a.m. with music from the American Legion Band. Speakers commence at 10 a.m., and include Chaplain Paul Myer, Mayor Steve McMichael and Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd.

Coffee, water and soda will be available.

• The American Legion Post on Taylor Street, Fort Wayne, will have hamburgers and hot dogs starting at 1 p.m. Monday.

• The Roanoke the American Legion Post will hold a ceremony Monday, May 31, at 1 p.m. at Glenwood Cemetery.

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