The 2019 American Hero Veterans Day Celebration kicks off bright and early Monday morning in downtown Paducah and concludes with indoor concert performances for everyone to enjoy.

The expanded Veterans Day celebration -- sponsored by WPSD Local 6, The Paducah Sun, the city of Paducah, McCracken County and Milner & Orr Funeral Home -- took months of planning and features a mix of new and traditional events.

It starts at 6:30 a.m. with a sunrise service ceremony on the riverfront.

Mayor Brandi Harless said she's looking forward to Monday's celebration, which will give veterans an opportunity to mingle with other veterans.

"We want to find new veterans we've never met before in our community," she said. "We want this to be a very comfortable place for people to come. I'm really excited about the sunrise service, specifically, because I think it'll really set the day and it just really is to me an indication that we're serious about making sure that we start our day remembering the service that our veterans have provided."

The next scheduled event, at 7 a.m., is a breakfast provided for veterans and their loved ones at the Paducah-McCracken County Convention and Expo Center. An awards ceremony will follow at 9 a.m. for Distinguished Veteran and Patriot Award recipients, along with recognition for student essay contest winners and Quilt of Valor presentations.

Hundreds of local schoolchildren also are expected to attend the celebration, which will feature touch-a-truck opportunities for military equipment provided by the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell.

The annual Veterans Day parade is set for 11 a.m.

"We are going from Dolly McNutt Plaza down Sixth Street, all the way to Campbell (Street) and into (the expo center) parking lot," Parks Director Mark Thompson said. "It's a straight shot down Sixth Street this year, which is a change from last year's route."

Thompson said there are about 20 participants signed up for Monday's parade, which include local companies and organizations. The celebration continues throughout the afternoon at the Expo Center with booths, exhibits and opportunities for veterans and community members to interact.

It all caps off at 6 p.m. with performances by the Community Concert Band and 101st Airborne Army Band.

The celebration is rain or shine.

"Don't let the weather forecast keep you away from honoring the men and women who served this country," added Bill Evans, WPSD Local 6 general manager and Paducah Sun publisher. "Many of our activities are indoors at the expo center."

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