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Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom is not Free that is why we honor the Men and Women who have sacrificed for our Freedom! Neither is the Parade.

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In 1993 a parade was founded in the community of Town & Country in Tampa, Florida. A parade conceived of by Vietnam Veterans Mark Fogarty, USMC and E. Rock Roque, USAF.

The challenges were many, convincing the Sheriff’s Office, parade route road closures, parade participants, school bands, advertising, etc. There was an additional challenge, neither co-founder had experience.

However, it was easily determined that Hanley Road would provide the best parade route with Webb Middle School as the review area. Fortunately early on, there were a few sponsors, Bill Curry Ford, who very generously furnished vehicles for the Grand Marshal and dignitaries.

The First Parade was disappointing, but the co-founders were not deterred and planned for the second with an additional feature… a community festival with games and food provided by local restaurants. The community festival was set up on the grounds of Webb Middle School in close proximity to the review stand. However, the events at the community festival were scheduled to begin only after the conclusion of the parade.

 

There was a remarkable improvement with the Second Parade. A better job was done informing the public, a banner announcing the parade was created and positioned across Hanley Road, that banner has been used every year since then.

After much conversation it was decided to bring in a “Carnival” to add to the festivities and create more interest. As a result, the third year, although yet small, was very successful. The carnival was very instrumental, as it provided much needed interest and funding for the parade.

There were many School Band Directors that stepped up and committed their school bands to the parade. Among them were, Webb Middle and Pierce Middle School, Berkley Preparatory, Alonso High, Leto High, Sickles High, Hillsborough High, Plant High, Jefferson High and Freedom High School. It was absolutely awesome to see these band members “strut their stuff” in review. There were also many RTOC Cadets marching proudly, Color Guard and marching troops. For the first few years, the Florida States Troopers Color Guard led the parade. On or about the fourth or fifth parade, a special request was made of the co-founders by a veteran commanding officer. The request was to have medals earned in WWII pinned on the soldier who earned them, but didn’t have them presented only because he was …black. After confirming that the medals were indeed earned, the first honoree of the parade was born. An injustice was made right, as the Honoree had his medals pinned on him by a Brigadier General while his wife, children and grandchildren witnessed with pride.

The future of the parade appeared promising, but to ensure its continued survival and success, it was decided that a “Non Profit Corporation” would have to be formed. A name was sought which would clearly delineate the sole purpose of the Non Profit Corporation; the name chosen was the “Veterans’ Day Parade Group, Inc.” Then with the assistance former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ben Waxman and his connections to law firms and accounting firms, the Veterans’ Day Parade Group, Inc. was born.

Unfortunately, the parade continued to struggle financially, even though the expenses were minimal and everyone was a volunteer, there were no financial sponsors. In fact, the parade in 2001 happened only because New York Yankees George Steinbrenner stepped in and provided financial help and much, much more. That was a very special parade, as it took place two months after the horrible events of 9/11. Mr. Steinbrenner, true to form, made sure everything was first class, including getting approval and paying for the band of the United States Marine Corp!!!

New and dedicated persons stepped up and became board members. This new breed took the parade to the next level and thereafter, the parade has continued to attract very talented board members and volunteers, thus assuring its continued success.

 
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Mission Statement

The Veterans Day Parade Group, Inc., is an all volunteer non-profit organization. Our mission: is to organize and execute the Tampa Bay Veterans Day Parade. To honor and thank all U.S. Military Veterans for their sacrifices, promote patriotism in our community, perpetuate a positive image of American Veterans, and foster pride in service to our country.

Contact Us

Veterans Day Parade Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 262125
Tampa, FL 33685 USA

813.995.7611