TOWN 'N COUNTRY — More than a dozen floats, four bands, the MacDill Air Force Base Honor Guard, scores of current and former service members, a prominent clown — even an antique hearse — are among the sights expected Saturday in the 18th annual Town 'N Country Veterans Day Parade.
As many as 25,000 spectators show up to watch the parade, which has gained in size and popularity over the years, says Gerald Jacobs, a parade organizer.
"We are the largest privately funded Veterans Day parade, at least in the state of Florida,'' he says.
This year's grand marshal is Col. Lenny J. Richoux, commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base. Also participating will be his family and the family of the honoree of the event, Joseph F. Fuerst III, an Army staff sergeant from the Tampa Bay area who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006.
The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. and will proceed along Hanley Road from Barry Road to Paula Drive. It is expected to end about 12:30 p.m.
Bands from Leto High School, Webb Middle School, G. Pierce Wood Middle School and a drum and dance group from Freedom High will march among floats from TECO Energy, Vietnam Veterans of America and three krewes' from Gasparilla.
Dignitaries include U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and School Board member Susan L. Valdes.
Units from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol, plus several Scouting groups will participate, too. And offering counterpoint to the solemn cadence of Hillsborough and Alonso high school Junior ROTC units will be 100 Shriners, fast-food clown Ronald McDonald and two antique vehicles from Brewer & Sons Funeral Home.
"We do this to show our appreciation to our veterans,'' says Jacobs, "but we're there to have a good time as well.''
Philip Morgan can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.