Florida Keys News
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Pride and patriotism at the annual Veterans Day Parade

There was no denying the community vibe, exhibited from all walks of Key West life at Monday evening's Veterans Day parade, organized this year by Naval Air Station Key West.

Young and old, male and female, civilians and service members, both past and present, watched and took part in a spectacle that paid homage to the sacrifices made by America's veterans.

The parade, which lasted about an hour, was led by the Key West Police Department, including three mounted officers, who stopped their horses at Duval and Eaton streets to salute the viewing stand, which was packed with VIPs and local politicians.

Members of the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) Color Guard, and a small army of sailors from Naval Air Station Key West followed the police officers.

As the procession made its way down Duval Street, from its starting point near Duval Square, members of the Navy League Key West Council handed out small American flags. Others threw candy from their floats, including the U.S. Post office entry, which announcer Trice Denny, a Naval Air Station spokeswoman pointed out is the largest employer of veterans in the country.

Two electric cars containing local World War II veterans received particularly loud applause from the crowd, as did Denny, when she announced that Key West has "the best VFW in the whole U.S. of A."

Shirley Ezmirley, a fixture on Fleming Street, walked alone, carrying a photograph of herself dressed in her military uniform from the 1950s.

"That's me," she said proudly. "Who else would it be?"

Key West resident Betty Lightcap, who works for JIATF, was among the throngs of spectators gathered at Eaton and Duval.

"My son is a Marine," she said, waving several U.S. flags. "And this is a great parade. I'm proud to be an American."

A minor disaster was averted as the Naval National Defense Cadet Corps saluted the judging stand by firing their rifles, startling a small dog. However the animal's owners quickly soothed it back into contented silence.

One motorcyclist from the ABATE club (American Bikers Aimed Towar Education), which exists to promote motorcycle safety, had a minor fender-bender in front of the stand, but no damage resulted.

Gymnasts from the Key West Sports Academy, as well as Key West High School Conchette cheerleaders, and marching band members, rounded out the display of small-town Americana Key West has managed to maintain, in the face of its relatively new status as a world-class tourist destination.

Key Wester Elaine Chinnis was all smiles after the parade.

"I loved it," she said. "It's one of my favorite events all year."


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