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Big E kicks off with a salute to veterans

The Big E returns to the Eastern States Exposition celebrating veterans at first day festivities.

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Excitement was in the air at The Big E on Friday morning.

The fall tradition made its return to West Springfield after being sidelined last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. First-day festivities kicked off with a special salute.

“This is a great event here, it is a way for the New England states to celebrate and recognize the veterans,” said Jeff DeClerck with the American Legion of Connecticut.

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Men and women who have served our country got the opportunity to explore the Eastern States Exposition free of charge.

“We get a chance to start all over again, meeting new people, meeting new veterans,” said Tom Moore of Fairfield.

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Mixed in with the traditional fair food and fun, the day was a chance for the team from the American Legion of Connecticut to connect with fellow veterans who may be struggling.

“It is also a way of reaching out and touching folks, especially folks who have been impacted negatively by what’s happened in Afghanistan,” DeClerck said.

RELATED: The Big E is back this weekend with a mask mandate in place

For others, like Connecticut’s tourism team, Friday was an opportunity to say thank you.

“You can’t say enough about our veterans, they are a group that should always be thanked, acknowledged, so to dedicate a full day to veterans is a wonderful privilege, an honor for us,” said Connecticut tourism liaison, Rose Bove.

These folks leave The Big E knowing a little more about service and remembering to have fun.

“My hope is to just come out and have a party, be safe about it but have a party, get back into the normal routine of things," Moore said.

Keith McGilvery is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at kmcgilvery@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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