ANNA MARIA – The Old Soldiers & Sailors Veterans Day parade is expected to be bigger than ever this year.
The parade begins Friday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Gulf Drive/Pine Avenue intersection and ends at City Pier Park, followed by a recognition ceremony for veterans and their spouses.
The parade will feature five high school marching bands, Palmetto High School Air Force JROTC cadets, a Marine Corps color guard, military vehicles, floats, vehicles representing local businesses, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders, local civic organizations and more.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy and Iraq War veteran Patrick Manning and his wife, Corrie, will serve as this year’s grand marshals.
Army veteran and Mayor Dan Murphy recently said this year’s parade is expected to feature more marching bands and more participants because the city of Palmetto canceled its Veterans Day parade.
Under the City Pier Park shade sail structure, the recognition ceremony for veterans and their spouses will include a Coast Guard flyover and the young JROTC cadets handing out commemorative medals to the veterans who previously served in the armed forces.
“It’s going to be a big event,” Murphy said.
The veterans recognition ceremony will be followed by a free ice cream social at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum complex at 402 Pine Ave.
To accommodate the parade, Pine Avenue will be closed at 9 a.m. Friday morning and remain closed until the parade is over with an expected reopening to traffic around 3 p.m. South Bay Boulevard from Spring Avenue to Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard from Pine Avenue to the north end of Bayfront Park, will also be closed at 9 a.m. Gulf Drive between Magnolia and Pine avenues will close as early as 11 a.m. The closed roads will reopen as soon as safely possible after the parade concludes.
All free trolley stops along Pine Avenue will be bypassed from 9 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. The City Pier trolley stop will be relocated to Spring Avenue at South Bay Boulevard.
Handicapped parking will be available near the City Pier for those with valid handicapped placards and/or license plates.