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Merchants join in Armed Forces Day Celebration

A window display in front of the Lazy Dog Chocolateria in Grass Valley is ready for the Armed Forces Day Celebration over downtown Grass Valley.
Photo: Courtesy Grace Crain for The Union

Merchants along Mill and Main streets have been busy preparing their front window displays in anticipation of the inaugural Grass Valley Armed Forces Day Celebration, set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

The downtown business district will be closed to traffic to honor those who are currently serving in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force and Coast Guard. In a unique partnership with the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, the city of Grass Valley and Nevada County, organizers are pulling out all the stops for an event they hope will become an annual celebration that attracts retired veterans, active-duty military personnel and their families from across Northern California.

“We’re excited for Armed Forces Day — we love the military,” said Paula Newman, who owns Lazy Dog Chocolateria on Mill Street. “I served in the Air Force and my husband and son served in the Marine Corps. We’re offering big discounts for military personnel and we’re putting retired uniforms and pictures of loved ones who have served in our front window. We’ve also encouraged community members to bring in their military memorabilia to add to our display.”



Lazy Dog is just one of many area businesses to register with the Military Appreciation Program, an ongoing effort that honors active duty military, reservists, veterans and Gold Star parents by providing discounts and special offers year round. Most participating businesses have an official sticker in their front window that reads, “We support our veterans.” More information and a list of member businesses can be found at mynevadacounty.com/3276/Military-Appreciation.

“We’ve got flags from all branches of military in our front window,” said Sue Amick, owner of Foothill Mercantile. “My Aunt Millie was a second lieutenant Marine in World War II. We kept a lot of her things, which will be on display. One of our windows will honor those who served in the past and the other will be for those who are currently serving. I think it will be a wonderful event — there are so many military families and ties to Beale in this town. My nephew works at Beale. The world is so crazy right now — we just want to support the military.”



A window display in front of Foothill Mercantile in Grass Valley is decorated with images of local servicemen and women in honor of today’s Armed Forced Day Celebration.
Photo: Elias Funez

When Beale was first established as a military training center during World War II, the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce reached out to officials there and began an 80-year relationship. Now city officials are eager to strengthen those ties.

BENEFICIAL PARTNERSHIP

In 2021, Nevada County supervisors sought to form a more formal relationship with Beale Air Force Base in an effort to form a mutually beneficial partnership that would enhance economic development opportunities in the region.

Last year it was estimated that over 8,500 veterans, their dependents and surviving spouses call Nevada County home. Many receive services through the Nevada County Veterans Service Office by way of the Nevada County Department of Social Services. In addition, Nevada County’s border is minutes away from Beale Air Force Base, which boasts more than 7,000 active duty, civilian and contractor personnel deployed. Add to that the 8,000 retirees and dependents in the greater Beale area and it amounts to roughly 15,000 people who may very likely visit and shop in nearby Nevada County. Understandably, businesses are eager to reach out and create more incentives — financial and otherwise — in the hopes of bringing more service members into the county.

“Armed Forces Day was celebrated nationally for the first time in May of 1950, but Grass Valley as a community — and the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce as an organization — have proudly supported the military for more than a century,” said Robin Davies, CEO of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Today’s Armed Forces Day Celebration is an extension of our relationship with Beale and will honor all services: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Space Force.”

“There are a lot of patriots in our town — this is a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation to those who are protecting our freedoms,” said Mark Evans, chief operating officer at Evans Furniture. “I’m retired military — I spent 22 years in the Coast Guard and just retired last year. We sell a lot of great military decorations and offer a standing military discount as well as special offers for Armed Forces Day. It’s an honor to support such a righteous initiative.”

“We really want to honor and thank our military by giving a discount, and we’ve got a patriotic theme in our window,” said Dave VanDelinder, who owns Heart and Home on Mill Street with his wife, Sandy. “My father was a World War II bomber pilot. He flew 35 missions over Germany when he was only 19.”

A bronze star medal is on display in the Foothill Mercantile window display. A bronze star is awarded for an achievement or service in combat.
Photo: Elias Funez

Davies and other organizers have worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs in promoting today’s event throughout Northern California, with the hope it will go on to become an annual “destination event” for the region.

“This event has given the chamber, city of Grass Valley, and County of Nevada a unique opportunity to partner,” said Davies. “With our combined resources, we have expanded what began as a small hometown military appreciation celebration into a patriotic extravaganza.”

Cory Fisher is a staff writer at The Union. She can be reached at cfisher@theunion.com

 


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