Pent-up demand for a way to salute America's veterans burst forth in Antioch on Tuesday, rolling down Second Street to the rumble of military vehicles, the roar of motorcycles and the patriotic airs of high school marching bands.
Most of the people I talk to say it's about time they honored the veterans, said Bill Hall, a veteran of Omaha Beach in WWII's D-Day invasion and the parade's Grand Marshal. We really appreciate the show of support.
City Councilman and Mayor-elect Jim Davis, co-organizer of the event, was delighted that the parade, the first in the city's history, drew some 40 entries, many of which said they'd be back for more.
This is a great turnout for our first year, Davis said. Plus, we've already gotten a lot of commitments for next year.
Hundreds of people, four deep at the curb in some places, watched the procession, which included 200 Scouts of all types, several veteran and patriotic motorcycle groups, military vehicles such as a nimble 1943 Army Jeep and a pair of behemoth modern-day MTV multi-purpose trucks, dozens of local military families including that of Antioch's Sgt. John Aragon, who died in Iraq this year County Fair Queen Jamie Lue and marching bands from Antioch, Deer Valley and Pittsburg high schools.
We've been needing to do this for a long time, said Antioch's Glen Wickerman as he waved one of hundreds of American flags handed out at the parade. I think they're going to need to make the route longer next year, though, because a lot more people will get into it.
The parade was followed by the laying of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial on the Antioch Marina, and a free barbecue hosted by the American Legion and Antioch Military Families.
We're glad to do this (for the vets), said Terry Schaeffer, Scoutmaster of Troop 151, as he and Scout Zach Soares tended to the hundreds of hot dogs to be served up. They've done a lot for us.