It’s not a parade — it’s a slow ride to honor and welcome veterans returning from Iraq for their service to our country. Pollock Pines resident Steven Poindexter watched a news program showing the final U.S. troops coming over the Iraqi border into Kuwait. Then he heard New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg announce that the city would not be honoring returning veterans with the traditional ticker-tape parade because of a decision by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
“That just seemed so wrong to me,” said Poindexter, who works at Crystal View Station in Pollock Pines and is the CFO of the Pollock Pines/Camino Chamber of Commerce. “Regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq, having no welcome home parade for returning Iraq vets was not acceptable.”
Craig Schneider in St. Louis, Mo. didn’t accept the Pentagon’s decision either, and on Jan. 26, the citizens of St. Louis held a welcome home parade which sparked a wave of parades and rides nationwide. When he heard about the welcome home events honoring the returning Iraq veterans, Poindexter wanted to get something underway in El Dorado County. “It’s a marvelous idea, done on a shoestring by local citizens.”
“The outpouring for Staff Sgt. Mote was tremendous, but no one has done that kind of thing for the people who returned home alive,” said Poindexter, 59. “Per capita, El Dorado County has supplied a huge number of troops and they have only been greeted at the airport by friends and family. It’s incumbent upon the citizens to honor those who volunteered to serve and who will carry the scars for the rest of their lives — hence the slow ride.”
A parade requires permits and can be costly. Poindexter came up with the idea of a group of vehicles starting at the Crystal Basin turnout on Highway 50 and touring through El Dorado communities with the flow of traffic as a cohesive unit. Vehicles could bear flags or signs to honor returning troops.
The route will go from east to west, following the sun from the Crystal Basin turnout down Highway 50 to the El Dorado Hills Community Center, through the communities of Pollock Pines, Camino, Placerville, Shingle Springs, Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills.
“We’re hoping the communities we pass through will want to participate in some fashion to honor our returning soldiers,” said Poindexter.
Although Poindexter has not been a soldier, his experience with six Crystal View Station employees who served in Iraq and returned has been a powerful motivator for the ride. “The soldiers from World War II received a tremendous welcome home, but we didn’t do that for our Vietnam vets. Some of our Iraq vets served five and six tours in Iraq and they are now going back to serve in Afghanistan. They aren’t draftees; they are all volunteers and I think we need to let them know that we have their back.”
Street legal vehicles will meet at the Crystal Basin turnout near the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge off Highway 50 at 10 a.m on Saturday, Sept.15. At 11 a.m. the procession will begin, traveling down Highway 50 to the Sly Park Road exit, through Pollock Pines on Pony Express Trail and continuing through the town of Camino. The ride will continue down Carson Road and re-enter Highway 50 near the gas station/Mountain Mike’s Pizza and travel down Highway 50 to the Schnell School Road exit. From Schnell School road, the vehicles will continue down Broadway through Main Street in Placerville. Then it will continue down the connector road to Placerville Drive, pick up Highway 50 at the west end of Placerville Drive and continue down Highway 50 to the El Dorado Road exit. From El Dorado Road the ride continues through El Dorado to Shingle Springs, down Durock Road and onto Cameron Park Drive. The final leg of the journey will be down Cameron Park Drive to Green Valley Road and down Green Valley Road to El Dorado Hills Boulevard, ending at the El Dorado Hills Community Center.
“We’ll have a Fallen Soldier Memorial at the beginning and we are working with local law enforcement for traffic control,” said Poindexter. “The ride will be slow in order to have minimal impact on businesses and traffic along the route.”
People may register to ride along with the El Dorado Slow Ride on ElDoradoSlowridehome@yahoo.com, but they don’t need to, said Poindexter. “They can just fall into line as we pass by.” People can also support the ride with signs and banners along the route. “Welcome Home Troops signs on vehicles must be larger than any sponsor signs, and flags are always a welcome home,” said Poindexter. “I’m hoping this can become an annual event.”
For more information about the ride or to register for it, contact Poindexter at ElDoradoSlowridehome@yahoo.com or check out the Facebook page at Facebook.com/WelcomeHomeElDoradoSlowRideHome.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or email@example.com. Follow @WSchultzMtDemo.