Torrance’s popular ode to the United States military will march back into the city at last.
After a three-years hiatus, the nation’s longest running municipally sponsored military procession will return to the South Bay’s largest city this weekend, with various active members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces participating — and a three-day celebration providing a whole slate of activities.
The 61st Armed Forces Day Parade and Celebration will take place from Friday to Sunday, May 19-21. It will feature a free concert by a military band, a 5K Run for Freedom and military assets on display. There will also be two military flyovers, one coordinated by the Western Museum of Flight and the other by the Coast Guard.
The parade, typically the biggest highlight of the weekend, will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday on Crenshaw Boulevard. The parade will then travel one mile west onTorranceBoulevard to Madrona Avenue.
Typically, the parade attracts more than 100,000 people. And more than 8,000 participants, including active duty troops and veterans, march along the parade route.
“The city’s Armed Forces Day Parade and Celebration is truly a special event for the city to host,” said Torrance Mayor George Chen. “We are very proud to have this opportunity to recognize and thank all members of the Armed Forces, whether they’re active or not. We hope they feel appreciated for their commitment and service, and for selflessly putting their lives on the line to keep Americans safe and free.”
Torrance’s Armed Forces Day celebration began in 1960, under then-Mayor Al Isen, as a salute to his friends and other military members. It has been a community fixture for years.
Torrance, though, hasn’t hosted a full version of the beloved tradition since 2019. The coronavirus pandemic nixed the celebration in 2020 and 2021. Torrance then held a stripped-down version last year because of budgetary concerns and staffing shortages.
Torrance is one of the few cities nationwide sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense to honor the armed forces through a parade and celebration.
Each year, the city identifies one branch of the military as the celebration’s “honored service.” A high-ranking member of that military branch serves as the parade’s grand marshal.
This year, the Coast Guard is designated as the honorary branch of the military. US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Carola List has been invited to serve as the grand marshal.
“Our dedicated team has worked tirelessly to plan a memorable event that honors our brave servicemen and women while ensuring the safety of our community,” said Torrance police Lt. Chad Farley, the event’s director. “We invite the community to please join us as we come together to celebrate and show our gratitude to those who serve.”
Folks, including local officials, seem thrilled to have the celebration back in full force.
“It’s a tradition that has been looked forward to and loved by the residents of Torrance for many, many years,” said Torrance Councilmember Sharon Kalani, “and to bring it back is just really special.
Kalani, a member of the city committee that directs and plans the annual celebration, said she remembers taking her daughters to the parade when they were children.
“The whole ambience of the Armed Forces Day parade and the recognition of the men and the women that serve our country and all different aspects,” Kalani said, “it brings home just how important those people are.
“It’s just a wonderful day.”
Jin Chun, management associate at the city’s office of cable and community relations, who’s also the staff liaison for the celebration, said it’s too hard to count a personal favorite from the exciting lineup of events.
“We have the exhibit all weekend for children and adults to check out,” she said. “There will be a 5K for Freedom on Saturday morning to kick off the day that is sponsored by the Chamber and then, of course, the highly anticipated parade.”
This year will mark the first time in six years the US Air Force Band of the Golden West has played for Torrance audiences, said Airman First Class Colin Gordon.
“I think the parade is probably one of the highlights of heading to Torrance for us,” Gordon, a saxophone player for the band, said. “Anytime we get the chance to honor those who served before us or inspire a sense of patriotism, we’ll always take up that opportunity. It’s one of the great parts of playing music and getting to perform for people.”
The band will give a free performance at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the James R. Armstrong Theatre, 3330 Civic Center Drive. There will be another free performance at 7:30 p.m., but that one is only open to military members.
For road closures, event activities and other information about the 61st Armed Forces Days celebration, vist the city’s website.
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