Veterans Day Parade steps off Wednesday in South Cape
By TIFFANY REPECKI
Residents and visitors can help honor veterans past and present during a celebration next week.
The Annual Veterans Day Parade will take place on Wednesday at 11 a.m. on Southeast 47th Terrace. Hosted by the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department and other local supporters, the parade will start out at Southeast Eighth Court then move eastbound along Southeast 47th Terrace to Southeast 15th Avenue.
Linda Biondi, one of the organizers, explained that this is a longtime event for the Cape.
“This parade’s been ongoing for years,” she said.
Last year, an estimated 70 groups took part, with thousands of parade-watchers along the route.
“It’s very well attended because it’s the only one in the area,” Biondi said.
About 70 groups are expected to participate again this year.
Each year, the parade honors veterans from one of the United States’ armed conflicts. In the past, veterans from the Vietnam War, World War II, Iraq War and Korean War have been highlighted.
“We’re honoring women veterans this year,” she said, adding that it is the first time.
Biondi noted that people tend to picture men when they think of veterans.
“But the women have been a tremendous part of our Armed Services,” she said.
The grand marshals for the parade are Renee Duncan and Kimberly Jacobs.
“They both served,” Biondi said, adding that they are Cape residents.
The Mariner High School, Ida S. Baker High School and North Fort Myers High School marching bands will perform, as well as the Araba Shriners. Smokey Bear will be marching in the parade.
“We have Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” she said. “We have a thousand JROTC cadets.”
Some of the other participants include the Vietnam Brotherhood, American Legion, a local corvette club, the Caloosa Jeepers of Southwest Florida and an area basset hound rescue organization.
Local elected officials will be on hand, as well as Cape police and fire.
“The Lee County Port Authority is sending its big fire truck,” Biondi said.
For the first time this year, the performance groups will be able to stop and showcase their talents for about two minutes at a “reviewing area” along the route. It will be located at Southeast 10th Place.
Emcees Patrick Nolan and Amy Wegmann of FOX 4 will broadcast from that location.
“Hopefully, we’re going to have bleachers or chair for people to sit,” she said.
The parade is expected to last between one and two hours.
“The parade’s long this year,” Biondi said.
Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and water.
Portable toilets will be available to use.
In addition to the parade, local schools recently announced the following programs:
n Patriot Elementary School’s Unity Day Celebration will be held today at 9 a.m. at 711 S.W. 18th St. The celebration will honor local veterans. Parents and community members will attend, including representatives from the Southwest Florida Military Museum. There will be a breakfast reception for veterans following the ceremony.
– Gulf Middle School will honor local veterans with a Veterans Day ceremony today at 10 a.m. at 1809 S.W. 36th Terrace.
– Ida S. Baker High School’s JROTC cadets will honor the veterans of the community with a Veterans Day Color Guard presentation on Monday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Coral Trace Manor, at 216 Santa Barbara Blvd.
– Skyline Elementary School will host its Veterans Day program on Tuesday at 8:15 and 9:15 a.m. at 620 S.W. 19th St. All veterans and active duty personnel are invited to attend. Student leaders will open the program with a speech dedicated to veterans and active duty personnel. Students will sing patriotic songs and recite poems.
– Caloosa Elementary School will celebrate Veterans Day with a special assembly on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at 620 S. Del Prado Blvd.