The American Legion post and the city of Alpharetta host the event, which includes 5K and 10K races, patriotic music, a formal ceremony, a parade and fellowship at Post 201.
Ferrell said the event fulfills two goals of the American Legion Post: to give back to the community and to honor veterans.
“This parade really has an interesting history that actually goes back to the Civil War,” he said.
The event originally developed after the war as a way for military members to join in fellowship, he said. The tradition discontinued until 1952 when members of Post 201 brought the celebration back once again.
The festivities will kick off with the 35th annual Old Soldiers Day Race, which will loop down Old Milton Parkway, Wills Road, Academy Street and Alpharetta Highway.
Participants can either enter the 5 K race or a 10 K race — a double loop of the same course. Preregistration is $20 and must be submitted by Friday. Runners can also sign up the day of the race with a $25 fee.
Starting at 9:15 a.m., music will be played in front of the Alpharetta City Hall followed by a ceremony at 10 a.m. Local resident Leon “Lee” Ellis will deliver the keynote address for the ceremony.
“[He] was a Vietnam fighter pilot,” Farrell said. “He was shot down on a mission over North Vietnam and spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner in the notorious ‘Hanoi Hilton’ [prison].”
The theme of this year’s event is “Leading with Honor,” which is also the title of a book Ellis has authored.
Farrell said the ceremony is solemn and includes the singing of the national anthem, prayers for fallen soldiers, the raising of the flags and a wreath laying ceremony.
After the formalities, the event’s 61st annual parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. About 100 units will march in the parade, including high school marching bands, military units, civic organizations and veterans groups, Farrell said.
“I always enjoy seeing the high school marching bands,” he said.
The route ends at the American Legion Post where the public is invited to hot dogs and refreshments. Farrell said the celebration is a fun time for the Alpharetta community.
If you go:
What: Old Soldiers Day
Where: Downtown Alpharetta
When: Aug. 3; race at 7 a.m., band at 9:15 a.m., program at 10 a.m. and parade at 10:30 a.m.
Information: (770) 475-9023 or (678) 297-6078