As the home of Wall South and Veterans Memorial Park, it makes sense that Pensacola would have a large and noteworthy Veterans Day celebration. And in recent years, under the care of the Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council (GCVAC), the city’s Veterans Day Parade and activities at the memorial have steadily grown. Grown so much, in fact, that Washington, D.C. has taken notice, with the Veteran’s Administration recently naming Pensacola a Veterans Day Regional Site.
Despite some growing pains related to financing—a steady increase in participants has also increased insurance costs—Nathaniel Bass, GCVAC’s chairman says the show will go on.
“In spite of the obstacles we’ve had, we’re going to have a parade,” stated Bass, referring to additional permitting requirements and costs that GCVAC, a non-profit that serves veterans in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, and Mississippi, learned of only weeks before the parade.
“We’re expecting a larger turnout than we had last year,” Bass reported, stating that this year’s parade will top the 140+ units and over 2,000 participants of 2012’s display.
Capt. Keith Hoskins, commander at Naval Air Station Pensacola, will serve as Grand Marshal of the parade, and will also speak at a ceremony to follow at 12 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park.
PENSAOLA VETERANS DAY PARADE
WHEN: Parade at 9 a.m., ceremony at 12 p.m.
WHERE: Parade begins at the corner of Spring and Main streets and moves along Bayfront Parkway to Veteran’s Memorial Park, where the ceremony takes place
If you live or plan on being on Pensacola Beach on Veterans Day, the island is hosting a parade of its own. Jeff Goudey, Veterans Services Coordinator at Elk’s Lodge #497, organizes the beach parade, which is in its 26th year. “This is kind of a low-key parade,” Goudey stated, adding that there are few floats, but more groups on foot, including the color guards of Washington High School and Gulf Breeze High School. The parade’s Grand Marshal will be retired U.S. Marine Col. Harry Hewson, who will also speak at a ceremony to take place at the Gulfside Pavilion at Casino Beach following the parade.
PENSACOLA BEACH ELKS LODGE VETERANS DAY PARADE
WHEN: 2 p.m., ceremony to follow
WHERE: Begins at Avenida 10 and rolls west along Via de Luna to Casino Beach
Also home to a veteran’s memorial in its historic downtown, Milton will likewise be the site of a large Veterans Day parade and ceremony. “It will be an interesting parade,” said Ralph Nesenson, manager of the Santa Rosa County Veterans Memorial Plaza and Veterans Day parade coordinator. “It’s going to make history, because it will be the first time all six high schools from the county will march as a single unit,” Nesenson said. The high school groups alone total over 700 members; other parade participants will include a number of veterans and community groups. Retired Navy Capt. Dick Catone will serve as the parade Grand Marshal and as guest speaker at the ceremony to be held at 11 a.m. at the memorial.
MILTON VETERANS DAY PARADE
WHEN: Parade at 9:30 a.m., ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial
WHERE: Parade begins at Milton High School and rolls to the Veterans Memorial