What would Veterans Day be without a parade downtown?
The city of Cape Coral, in conjunction with several city and county organizations, will hold the annual parade as a way for the community to honor our American heroes, pay tribute to those who have lost their lives, and those who are currently serving our country with pride.
The parade will be held Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Southeast 47th Terrace between Southeast 15th and 10th Ave.
According to Linda Biondi of Raso Realty, who has volunteered to arrange the lineup, it will at least be as successful as those of years past, if not better.
"We have probably 50 units. We will have a tremendous ROTC presence, with every high school in Lee County participating," Biondi said. "We have almost 1,000 kids who will be marching."
Biondi added the Shriners, in their trademark tiny cars, as well as numerous veterans groups, high school bands from Mariner and Cape Coral, who are trying to raise money to perform in the Memorial Day Parade in Washington this spring, and even car clubs are expected to take part.
The car clubs, such as Corvettes on the Gulf, Caloosa Jeeps and the Hot Chili Rodders, will be particularly important, Biondi said, since they give rides to some of the older veterans who can't march.
The newly elected city officials will participate, as will the American Legion Riders and the Christian Motorcycle Association, who are new to the parade, Biondi said.
Outgoing mayor John Sullivan, as he has done previously, will ride in the parade as one of his final officials acts in the office.
"I'm a big supporter of the veterans. I want to honor them and thank them for their sacrifice," Sullivan said.
Nick Ciletti from NBC-2 News will be the emcee from the reviewing stand and, as a new touch, there will be five grand marshals, one from each branch of the military and all from the Vietnam War, Biondi said.
They are: Arnie Suominen (Army); Gary Bowler (Marines): Lee Hoffman (Navy); Richard Weatherford (Air Force); and Dick Hucvek (Coast Guard).
"We rotate the wars each year to see who leads off the parade and it was Vietnam's turn, and we decided this year to do something different," Biondi said.
City businesses will also get in on the event, Biondi said, offering discounts to those who bring in the parade program afterward, similar to what they did with those who voted on Tuesday.
The parade is a cooperative effort of the Lee County Joint Veteran's Association, YMCA, the cities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Lee County Schools, Lee County Government, and the Lee County Sheriff's Department.
"Cape Coral has always been a big veteran town. The old-timers say you used to drive down the street and on the mailbox you'd see retired colonel, retired general," Sullivan said.
For more information, call the city at 573-3122.