JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The River City honored and thanked the men and women who’ve made great sacrifices in service to our country with its annual Veterans Day Parade.
The parade began at 11:01 a.m. Wednesday, beginning on Water Street in front of the Lofts at Jefferson Station.
Families decked out in red, white and blue lined the streets of downtown Jacksonville and waved the American flag.
“It means a lot,” said U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dooley Elliot. “I love to see the support.”
Dean Hanapel was among those who came out to support veterans and all military service members.
“In support of our son who is stationed in South Dakota,” Hanapel said. “Personal sacrifice giving to your country, and it’s just go USA.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams took part in the parade, which is one of Florida’s largest Veterans Day parades.
“I thought it was important to find a way to honor our veterans today,” Curry said. “That’s why we’re having this parade.”
“It’s an opportunity to thank the veterans,” Williams said. “If you love our country then thank a veteran today because they defend it every single day."
In addition to Curry and Williams, as well as U.S. Army veteran and parade grand marshal Maj. Gen. Maury Edmonds, the parade included two of Jacksonville’s oldest veterans: U.S. Army veteran Sollie Mitchell, 102, and U.S. Army Air Corps veteran John Connelly, 95.
Supporters waved to them, as well as the floats. Wounded Warrior Project, Vietnam Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, the Florida National Guard and Northeast Florida Women Veterans were just a few of the dozens of organizations that participated.
“I come from a long line of military veterans. My husband is a Desert Storm vet and my children are members of the Children of the American Revolution and they’re walking in the parade today,” said Allison Baird. “So I am very proud of my American heritage.”
More than 80,000 veterans live in Jacksonville, according to the last census, and that number is growing. According to the city, a quarter of those who live in Jacksonville have a direct link to a military service member or veteran.
“Honoring everyone who was in the military and serving the country,” said Alexis Smith.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department’s ladders were up in the honor guard formation with the American flag waving in the wind.
Jaxson de Ville also made an appearance.
Residents could attend in person or watch the event on TV, with WJXT Channel 4 airing the Veterans Day Parade live.
The parade route proceeded east down Water Street, turned onto Laura Street, turned west down Adams Street and continued that way until the completion of it at Lee Street. Those who attended were encouraged to maintain social distancing and wear red, white and blue to support veterans. Viewing locations were available on Water, Laura and Adams streets. There were spots to view on both the Northbank Lawn and the Duval County Courthouse.
“Our community here in Jacksonville is extremely proud of and grateful for the sacrifices and services of our military members and their families,” Curry said. “Each year, our city is honored to host of one of the largest Veterans Day parades that shows our support and gratitude for not only those actively serving, but veterans as well, both past and present."
The city said to expect closures on the following streets beginning at 7 a.m.:
- Water Street from Lee Street to Hogan Street.
- Independent Drive from Hogan Street to Laura Street
- Bay Street from Main Street to I-95.
- Forsyth Street from S Myrtle Avenue to Main Street
- Houston Street from Adams Street to Clay Street
- Adams Street from Main Street to Johnson Street
- Laura Street from Independent Drive to Monroe Street
- Lee Street from Water Street to Monroe Street
- Davis Street from Forsyth Street to Adams Street
- Madison Street from Forsyth Street to Houston Street
- Jefferson Street from Monroe Street to Riverside Avenue
- Broad Street from Acosta Bridge North to Monroe Street
- Pearl Street from Monroe Street to Water Street
- Julia Street from Bay Street to Monroe Street
- Hogan Street from Water Street to Monroe Street
- Park Street from Stonewall Street to Water Street