In this November 2018 file photo, Members of the Bangor High School Junior ROTC cross the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge as the Veteran’s Day parade crosses over the Penobscot River from Brewer to Bangor. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The Bangor-Brewer Veterans Day parade set for next week will be first of the city’s traditional yearly parades to occur since the pandemic began in March 2020 — though the annual Festival of Lights parade in December has again been canceled.

The Veterans Day parade, set for 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11, is organized by the Junior R.O.T.C. of Bangor High School. It will start at the intersection of State and Wilson streets in Brewer, and continue down Wilson Street, cross the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, and head down Main Street in Bangor before ending at the corner of State and Exchange streets in the city’s downtown.

Bangor Area Breakfast Rotary will host a pancake breakfast that’s free for veterans ($7 for adults and $4 for children) that will immediately precede the parade from 7 to 10 a.m. at Jeff’s Catering on Littlefield Road in Brewer.

The Veterans Day festivities will also mark the first parade to occur in Bangor since the pandemic began in March 2020. The last parade to happen in Bangor was the 2019 Festival of Lights holiday parade, held in December that year. The Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day and Festival of Lights parades in 2020 were all canceled. In 2021, Memorial Day was instead observed with a ceremony held on the Bangor Waterfront, and the Fourth of July parade was canceled due to heavy rain all day.

The Rotary Club of Bangor, which has organized the Festival of Lights parade for more than two decades, said in a Facebook post that the decision to cancel the parade this year was an incredibly difficult one to make. The organization made the decision during the late summer, when Maine — and particularly Bangor — was experiencing a massive spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We have to make the call by September so we have time to organize, and at that time, cases were still really high. That’s the information that we had at the time,” said Roland Narofsky, lead parade organizer. “If we said we were going to do it, and then we had to cancel, some of these companies commit a lot of resources and money to these floats. That would have been unfair.”

Rotary will again this year hold a Festival of Lights: On the Road event, in which Bangor-area businesses and homeowners are encouraged to decorate their homes and buildings with lights between Dec. 4 and Jan. 2. A map will be provided to anyone who wants to drive around and look at all the displays, and then vote on their favorites. The tree lighting ceremony is also still slated for Dec. 4 in West Market Square in downtown Bangor.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.