RHINELANDER - A Northwoods Memorial Day service attracts hundreds of people, rain or shine. But getting there isn't always easy for some.
This year, service organizers will offer free coach bus rides to the Union Grove Cemetery in Harshaw for its May 27 ceremony. Rick Smith started the ceremony after going to his father's grave site on Memorial Day in 1997 and seeing no one else out there.
Ceremony treasurer Craig Lau says the service has grown from an informal gathering to a day with cannons, fly-overs, and music.
"We had a lot of interest from the local community, and that expanded to a little bit out of our area," Lau said. "We started to see the growth and interest... People are persistent and they're very loyal. Even with adverse weather--we could probably have a snowstorm and I think we'd have excellent turnout."
The Veterans Ceremony-Union Grove Ceremony, Inc. will cover all costs for the bus service through Lamers Motor Coaches.
You must sign up in advance for the free rides, which leave from Home Depot in Rhinelander and SARA Park in Tomahawk. The buses leave those sites at 10:15 a.m. on May 27. The buses are wheelchair accessible.
Organizers say there's no age requirement to ride. They'll take anyone who wants to support veterans.
"We want to bring as many people as we can," Lau said. "Veterans, their families, youth to educate them also, so everyone is welcome."
You must call to reserve your seat on the bus. The Rhinelander reservation number is 715-420-0552, and the Tomahawk number is 715-360-0661.
The cutoff for reservations is May 12.
The ceremony begins at Union Grove Cemetery on Lakewood Road at 11:30 a.m. There will also be an Einar H. Ingman, Jr. Veterans Memorial motorcycle processional, which begins at the American Legion Post 93 in Tomahawk with a gathering at 9:25 a.m. All are welcome to ride. For more information about the ride, call Red at 715-966-1166.