Lakewood Ranch Herald

Saluting our heroes: Patriotism reigns at Salute to Heroes Day Parade in Lakewood Ranch


Some might think it was already Memorial Day if they drove past Main Street in Lakewood Ranch on Sunday.

That’s because patriotic songs including “God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” filled the air on the sun-splashed day.

It was all part of a Salute to Heroes Day Parade involving the community and Braden River VFW Post 12055, Lakewood Ranch High School and Manatee’s Operation Troop Support — a nonprofit organization operating from King Middle School in Bradenton that serves members of the military deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Also in attendance for the pre-Memorial Day bash were Jerry and Cathy Howze, presidents of the Lakewood Ranch Band Booster Association.

Outside Ed’s Tavern MOTS volunteers were on hand to accept packages that will be mailed to local residents serving overseas.

During the parade, about 40 students from Lakewood Ranch High School marched down the street playing songs, while a small crowd, many who were the teens’ parents, cheered and clapped.

Lakewood Ranch High School sophomore Mary Hunt skipped nearby the band twirling a 4-foot flag with her school colors.

“This was fun,” said the 15-year-old, who is part of the school color guard.

Some of the parade onlookers, including 15-year-old Rachel West, of Lakewood Ranch, waved a small American flag as the band played.

Although she sported green and silver beads around her neck in support of her high-school, she did not forget about her country’s colors. She wore a white and blue shirt, and the red came from a small flower she put in her hair.

“A VFW man at the parade gave this to me and one to everyone else,” West said, then waved her flag again. “I’m patriotic.”