LAKEWOOD RANCH — Ed’s Tavern owner John Breiner can’t help but smile thinking about the Memorial Day parade his uncle started back in New Jersey decades ago.
The event was always a childhood favorite, and Breiner remembers how he and his friends riding in the parade would stick playing cards in the spokes of their tires for added effect.
“We sounded like we were tanks,” he said with a chuckle. “Always as a kid, Memorial Day was something we looked forward to. … Memorial Day meant something. As a nation, we’ve kind of gotten away (from that).”
But Breiner again is looking to foster the American spirit during the second annual Tribute to Heroes Memorial Parade.
The parade, which will be held at noon, May 30 at Lakewood Ranch Main Street, will start near the Polo Grill and Bar and wind its way down Main Street, making its final stop in front of Ed’s Tavern.
More than a dozen groups, including the Blue Knights, the fire department and local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, among others, will be participating. This year’s event also includes a 21-gun salute.
Additionally, Little Bookworms will be hosting a bike-decorating contest. Children participating in the contest will march in the “Little Bookworms Brigade” and must come with their bicycles decorated.
The parade will be followed by a special hourlong Memorial Day ceremony as well as live music, beer and barbecue, face painting, fire truck demonstrations, putt-putt golf, raffles and other activities.
“Treat it like your old-time Memorial Day,” Breiner said. “Eat a hamburger. Meet your neighbor. On days like this, you remember the kids who are giving us our freedom. There’s no other country better in the world than where we live.”
Attendees also are being asked to bring items to ship to solders serving overseas. Organizers hope to fill a 30-foot box truck with items, such as books, beef jerky, peanuts, power bars, Gatorade power packs, vitamins, batter-powered fans, flashlights, phone cards, insect repellant and dental floss.
“We filled it up last year, and it’s our goal to fill it up again,” Breiner said.
The group Manasota Operation Troop Support, better known as MOTS, will distribute the collected items by sending out monthly care packages to family members of Manatee and Sarasota County residents who are serving overseas. MOTS also will be collecting letters to send to soldiers in the packages.
This year’s parade will benefit VFW Post 12055, who will be handing out poppies and selling beer, among other activities.
Businesses and groups such as Little Bookworms, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Corp., and MacAllisters Grill & Tavern, among others, have lent their support to this year’s event.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.
Tribute to Heroes Memorial Day Parade
WHEN: Noon, May 30
WHERE: Lakewood Ranch Main Street
ON THE AIR: You can tune in to radio station WLSS 930 AM from 7:30-8 a.m., and from 11:30 a.m. to noon, May 29, and from 6:30-7 a.m., May 30, to listen to John Breiner, Gene Sweeney and Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Corp. Director Lori Basilone discuss the event.
Creekwood Veterans Memorial Dedication & Picnic
Members of the Creekwood neighborhood will dedicate a new veterans memorial outside the community’s recreation area during a special ceremony May 29.
The dedication, which is open to all East County residents, will start at 11 a.m. and will include a presentation of colors by the Lakewood Ranch High School JROTC and the singing of the National Anthem. Boy Scout Troop 10, Girl Scout Troop 811 and Cub Scout Den Leader of Pack 191 will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and participate in the flag-raising ceremony.
“We are trying to use as much of our own Creekwood talent as we can,” ceremony organizer and U.S. Navy veteran Larry Dean said.
The ceremony will be followed by a Creekwood resident-only picnic, which is scheduled to start at noon.