Sunny skies and American flags greeted VFW and American Legion posts from all over the state as they gathered Saturday, April 28, to participate in the 2018 VFW Wisconsin State Loyalty Day Parade in New Richmond.

A patriotic crowd waved, cheered and saluted as veteran color guards marched down main street accompanied by Grand Marshal Merlin Blaisdell, Wisconsin Secretary of Veterans Affairs Daniel Zimmerman and Wisconsin VFW Commander John Schultz.

The New Richmond High School Marching Tigers belted out a medley of military songs to pace a large contingent of parade participants including the Klondike Kates, Believet Service Dogs, New Richmond Boy Scout Troop 464, St. Croix County Sheriff's Office mounted division, and police chiefs representing five community departments.

However, the VFW Wisconsin State Loyalty Day Parade was not the only excitement taking place last Saturday. In the months leading up to the parade, Wanda Viellieux, with the help of the VFW Auxiliary, solicited the participation of numerous business owners in a window display contest illustrating the theme of this year's parade, "United We Stand, We Will Not Be Divided." Displays will remain up through May 1, in honor of the official Loyalty Day as proclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and first observed May 1, 1955.

Champs Sports Bar & Grill generated the initial buzz a few weeks prior to the parade with their full-size window displays. Eighteen additional businesses followed suit culminating in the winners being announced at the American Legion Hall Saturday afternoon following the parade. A panel of five judges awarded prizes to the winners; Dairy Queen, Champs Sports Bar & Grill, Wild Badger Sports Saloon, Laundry Village, and WITC-NR campus.

A number of other businesses unofficially supported the contest and Loyalty Day by displaying flags and other items in their business windows.

Viellieux wished to express her deep appreciation to the entire business community for supporting the VFW and Auxiliary in so many ways.