Hundreds of residents from across the county lined Main Street in Merced on a sunny Saturday afternoon to celebrate Veterans Day with a hometown parade.
The festivities kicked off at Bob Hart Square with a special ceremony led by local, state and federal representatives to honor those who have served. They gave special recognition to this year’s Grand Marshals: United States Army CPL Anthony “Tony” Santos, United States Army SPC Armando Granado, and United States Air Force Retired Chief Jose Ybarra.
Interim Merced County Veterans Services Officer John Cox thanked residents and dignitaries for their attendance. Following the posting of colors by the Los Banos Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion Color Guard, the National Anthem was performed by Wil Wholtman. Senior pastor at Yosemite Church, Jeff Leis, was then invited to the podium to conduct a benediction.
Local dignitaries at the event included Congressman John Duarte, Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria, Senator Anna Caballero’s office representative, and the entire board of County Supervisors: Scott Silveira, Daron McDaniel, Lloyd Pareira, Rodrigo Espinoza and Josh Pedrozo.
Merced County veteran and keynote speaker Glenn Galman spoke about the significance of Veterans Day.
Following the ceremony, all eyes were on Main Street as dozens of local organizations, motorcycle clubs, floats, and bands made their way through the parade route. Residents cheered them on with flags in hand as patriotic music provided by the Merced College Concert Band filled the air.
Over the course of the next hour residents celebrated the freedoms afforded to them, those who have fought for them, and honored the veteran community as a whole until the parade concluded with a show of vehicles from local law enforcement organizations.