During summer 2014, Jack Rozance attended a meeting for the Rotary Club of Longboat Key’s first Veterans Day Parade and Honor Program. He remembers that those present thought 20 veterans walking in the parade would be a success.
By the start of the parade that year, 120 veterans were lined up to walk. Last year, 150 veterans joined the parade. This year, Rozance, the club’s president, expects to have at least 150 veterans participating, though registration is running ahead of last year.
The third annual Veterans Day Parade and Honor Program will step off at 2 p.m. Nov. 11. Dubbed the “world’s shortest Veterans Day parade” by Rozance, the parade will march a quarter mile starting at Bank of America and ending at Temple Beth Israel, where the honor program will take place.
“It’s the world’s shortest Veterans Day parade, but I just have to believe it’s one of the most impactful,” Rozance said.
The Booker High School marching band, The Whirlwind Brigade, will perform during the parade.
The veterans registered will march by era — Persian and Gulf War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Korean War and World War II. Families will follow. After the parade, veterans, including Ed Burton, who served in the Navy in Vietnam, will speak at the honor program.
The grand marshal for this year’s parade is Harold Ronson, a Navy veteran who served between 1944 and 1946. He was there when U.S. forces landed and launched the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“All these years, I never forgot it,” he said.
The Rotary Club encourages veterans of allied nations to participate as well. Like in years past, those unable to walk will ride in convertibles.
The Rotary Club is looking for volunteer convertible owners to drive a veterans the quarter-mile route. For those interested in volunteering, contact Chris Lake at 806-9062.