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Vets events begin with fair Saturday

A Veterans Fair scheduled for Saturday in Crystal River will kick off Veterans Appreciation Week, a weeklong series of events that culminates in the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11 in Inverness.

The fair, a free event sponsored by the Citrus County Veterans Service Office, will be from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Crystal River Mall. A flag-raising ceremony at 9:45 will use the burial flag that draped the casket of Lance Cpl. Brian Buesing, a 20-year-old Marine killed in March in Iraq. Buesing grew up in Pasco and Levy counties.

The fair will include about 30 information booths from numerous veterans' organizations, such as area Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts and government agencies.

Free influenza immunizations for veterans and their spouses, administered by the Gainesville VA Medical Center, will be available.

The Citrus Community Band will perform at noon, and a 14-foot miniature submarine will be on display.

On Sunday, a mock USO show will begin at 3 p.m. at the Curtis Peterson Auditorium at Lecanto High School. Entertainment will feature Wes Stowe as Bob Hope and Sally Langlois as Marilyn Monroe, said Gerry Mandel, board member of Playhouse 19 community theater, which is producing the show.

Additional entertainment will include the cast of Playhouse 19's Annie Get Your Gun, singing Doin' What Comes Naturally, You Can't Get a Man With a Gun and There's No Business Like Show Business, all from the musical's score.

The show will also feature a tribute to the music of Irving Berlin and a grand finale of American patriotic songs. Admission is free to all veterans; a $10 donation for the World War II Memorial Trust Fund is requested for everyone else.

Veterans can also enjoy an air show Saturday and Sunday at Dunnellon Airport. The Centennial of Flight Airshow begins at 1 p.m. each day, and gates open at 9 a.m. Events include flight demonstrations by a variety of aircraft, including a C-130 transport and AT-6 jets. Tickets at the gate are $10 for adults and $5 for students. To reach the airport, take U.S. 41 N to Dunnellon, turn right on Pennsylvania Avenue, travel about 6 miles and turn left at the airport sign. For information, call (352) 465-0727.

The Veterans Day Parade will roll down Inverness' Main Street and through the Courthouse Square, beginning at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day. The parade starts at Citrus High School and heads south along Main Street, then turns left on Pine Avenue and winds through the Courthouse Square. Many local VFW and American Legion posts will have floats, color guards and marching units in the parade.

After the parade, an 11th Hour Memorial Service will be held on the grounds of the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum.

The service will feature the Lecanto Middle School band, the Crystal River High School chorus, the Navy JROTC Color Guard, Young Marines, recipients of the Patriotic Essay awards and local dignitaries.

The keynote speaker will be Sgt. Maj. John Stanley Parker of the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

_ Jorge Sanchez can be reached at 860-7313. Send e-mail to sanchezsptimes.com.

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