St. John parade highlights Veterans Day celebrations

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011



LAPLACE – Veterans Day is officially observed Friday, but residents of the River Parishes are not waiting until the end of the week to pay tribute to those men and women who risked their lives to fight for our country, as celebrations, including a parade in St. John the Baptist Parish and fireworks in St. James Parish, will be held in the region this week.

St. Charles Parish is hosting its annual Veterans Day Luncheon this morning at 10:30 a.m. at the Jerusalem Temple, 1940 Ormond Blvd., in Destrehan. The event is free to all veterans in the St. Charles Parish area. Louisiana National Guard Adjutant Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau has been confirmed as the event’s guest speaker.

In St. James Parish, a community tradition continues Thursday with the 13th annual Veterans Day Celebration on the grounds of the St. James Parish Welcome Center on Airline Highway in Gramercy. The event will kick off at 4:30 p.m. with a color guard presentation followed by the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance led by the local ROTC. The event will include a speech from Earl “Pat” Santos Jr., a retired colonel of the Louisiana Air National Guard and assistant deputy director of emergency management within the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Department.

Food will be provided from local business, and there will also be entertainment from the Dixieland Seven band, local dance teams and choir performances. The evening will conclude with a fireworks display in addition to a veteran fly-over tribute courtesy of the United States Air Force out of Belle Chasse.

Because of limited parking, shuttle bus transportation will be provided by the parish. Residents are encouraged to park and board buses at either Taylor’s Express or Golden Grove truck stops, both located on Highway 3125 in Gramercy.

Veterans Day events conclude in grand fashion Friday with the first annual St. John the Baptist Parish Veterans Day Parade. The parade, which features local veterans, will line up in the Home Depot parking lot at 9:30 a.m. and depart at 10 a.m. The parade is the brainchild of St. John Parish Sheriff’s deputy Lt. Brian Bertrand, who is also the unit commander for the Sheriff’s Office Young Marines program.

“This is something that is long overdue,” Bertrand said. “These men and women who gave so much to their country deserve to be honored on their day, and we are making that happen.”

The parade will roll down Airline Highway and finish at the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home in Reserve, where a full day of events will take place. Bertrand said the day will include appearances by parish and state officials, essay readings by Young Marines and a balloon release at the end of the day.