A tribute parade to veterans

By Jennifer Sandy / Staff Writer, Felix Pineda / Asst. News Editor

Proud to serve (Edward Diaz / Asst. Photo Editor )

By Jennifer Sandy / Staff Writer, Felix Pineda / Asst. News Editor

Riverside City College was happy to lend its land to allow volunteers prepare for the 6th annual A Salute to Veterans Parade on April 16.

The celebration began early Saturday morning with a pancake breakfast for veterans from all over the area.

Volunteers cooked sausage in bulk in large skillets and dozens of pancakes at a time, serving hot food off the grill to awaiting Veterans.

Cpl. Ralph Ford was among those in line waiting for the smoking hot sausage and scrambled eggs.

He spoke about the years he spent in Vietnam as a United States Marine, and how it made him proud to have served his country.

Veterans from all branches and all ages sat together enjoying breakfast while volunteers prepared for the parade.

The parade assembled in the RCC parking lot near Ramona, and started on Magnolia at Terracina ending in downtown Riverside.

“It’s pretty cool, I like it,” said Candelario Rodriguez, a member of Patriot Guard Riders. “We’re here to make sure Veterans are properly honored.”

Patriot Guard Riders is an amalgamation of motorcycle riders from all over the nation and has participated in all six of Riverside parades.

The Grand Marshal this year was Stater Bros. CEO Jack Brown, who rode in a Navy jeep along with his personal driver.

“I’ve had many titles in my life, including CEO of Stater Bros., but no title means more to me than Veteran,” Brown said. “I’m very much honored to be able to represent all Veterans as Grand Marshal today.”

Brown spent six  active years in the in the Naval Reserves starting June 1959, and was then honorably discharged in June 1962.

The parade consisted of 105 entries this year including groups like Sons & Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dancers, and 82nd Airborne Living History Assn.

Special to this parade was a float which featured exclusively women veterans.

“You get on the job training and you really get a sense of yourself, I can really see a definitive line between before I went to boot camp and now,” said Ally McKinley, a Marine Corps. Veteran who was deployed just after September 11, 2001.

Spectators lined the street to show support for those who have put their lives on the line to protect the country. Some waved flags, some dressed in red, white and blue, and some, such as Dahlia Mendoza, simply came to cheer them on.

“I, myself, and my brother have been in the service, so I just came out to show my support for my country,” Mendoza said.

Many city elects were also there showing their support for our Veterans along with Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge.

The local fire departments were in attendance parading their fire engine along with a large force of police K-9 units from all over Riverside County.

Some of the performing bands were Cal Baptist University Percussion Ensemble who rode on a large flatbed truck and the 1st Marine Division Band, Camp Pendleton which marched along Magnolia Ave.

There were several fly overs by 5 different air crafts including a Huey helicopter and a P-51 Mustang, such as the ones in use around WWII.