WILLMAR — In a display of unity and support for local health care workers, a drive-by vehicle parade will be held Wednesday afternoon in Willmar.

The parade route includes stops at five health care facilities between 1 and 2:30 p.m.

Vehicles will line up at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday along Olena Avenue Southeast behind the YMCA.

Participants are encouraged to “wave, hold up signs, honk their horns and be loud at each location in support of our health care workers for all that they have done for our community throughout this very stressful year,” according to Bob Mathiasen, chief operating officer at Heritage Bank and co-chair of the public policy committee with the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Mathiasen said the idea for the parade came about when Mike Schramm, Carris Health CEO, and Kathy Dillon, the chief nursing officer, attended the policy committee meeting in early April.

“I asked a question about how the team morale was holding up as the COVID crisis has dragged on,” said Mathiasen. “They answered that it is tough some days, but the team is committed and pushing through.”

After that meeting, Mathiasen said he thought it would be “great to do something to show our local health care workers that the community is very appreciative for all they’ve done and sacrificed in the past 14 months.”

When the idea emerged for a vehicle parade, it was presented to Schramm.

“He loved the idea,” said Mathiasen, and community organizations quickly agreed to participate.

The Willmar Senior High School band will be performing at each stop and Willmar Bus Service is donating the bus and driver to bring the band to the locations on the parade route. The Willmar Fire Department, Willmar Police Department and CentraCare Ambulance Service are also participating.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has been on board,” said Mathiasen. “It should be a great day to celebrate a group of people that absolutely deserve it,” he said.

According to the tentative schedule, the first stop at 1 p.m. is at Bethesda; 1:20 p.m. at Carris Health Main Clinic (formerly known as ACMC); 1:45 p.m. at Carris Health Care Center (formerly known as Rice Care Center); 2:10 p.m. at Carris Health — Rice Memorial Hospital and 2:25 p.m. at Carris Health Lakeland Clinic (formerly known as Family Practice).

For updates to the plan, go the Health Care Worker Celebration Parade Facebook page.