BROOKSVILLE — The fanfare of patriotic marching band music, splendor of American flags waving in the sun, the smiles on the faces of sharply-dressed veterans as they proudly strut down the street. Those sounds and images carry great meaning for Anna Liisa Covell.
For the past 11 years, the Brooksville businesswoman has been at the helm of the city's Veterans Appreciation Parade that has become an endearing tradition. As someone whose father, brother, husband, son and daughter all served in the military, she understands the importance of recognizing the sacrifices that men and women in the armed forces have made.
"We need to honor them as often as possible," Covell said. "Having a parade is a small gesture, but it means the world to a lot of people."
That's what prompted Covell to revive the parade in 2000. In the late 1980s, Veterans Day parades were discontinued after the city made acquiring insurance and permits an expensive requirement.
For years the $600 permit fee was always paid out of the city's fee waiver fund. But in a cost-cutting measure, the city council agreed last month that it would no longer provide such assistance for public events.
Covell was ready to dig into her own pocket when she received two generous offers of help.
Newly-appointed council member Kevin Hohn, an Air Force veteran, said he would pay the $600 permit fee. The Hernando Sportsman's Club agreed to pay for insurance for the event.
Hohn, who lost a brother in the Vietnam War, said he will be riding in the event in a car with his brother's picture on it.
"It's such an important event to the community," Hohn said. "I feel honored to be able to help."
Covell said one of her favorite aspects of the parade is that it's open to anyone who wants to be part of it. In fact, she said, there is only one standing rule: no politicking.
"It's a people's parade and I don't feel it's the kind of place for that," Covell offered. "It should always be about paying respect to the people who dedicated their lives for our freedom."
Saturday's parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the parking lot behind Brooksville City Hall and will travel through downtown. The public is encouraged to walk with the veterans and to bring flags to show their support.
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.