Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

MJ Christmas Parade to honor veterans, America

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It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Mt. Juliet's Christmas parade Saturday at 11 a.m. when our county's finest veterans will be grand marshals.

The theme is "Star Spangled Christmas," and it's dedicated to those men and women who have served our country. There will be about a dozen of our military's finest representing the city, the oldest 99 years young and, yes, one female will marshal.

While last year's parade theme "Frozen" broke records, city Parks Director Rocky Lee got emotional when he said last year was for the young ones, and this year will be too, but it's the adults who will tear up and salute and praise our veterans.

"This year it's patriotic for sure," he said. "It's red, white and blue and standing up and being proud to be an American. America has been in distress. This is our salute. We are proud to be Americans!"

While World War II vets are the grand marshal's, vets representing all wars, will be in the front of the parade, some riding motorcycles and others walking.

"Legendary musician Charlie Daniels from Mt. Juliet has loaned us a red, white and blue, flag-emblazoned jeep to shepherd several of our WWII vets, the others will be in a van; they are very fragile and we have to keep them safe."

"I just want to say this is so important," Lee said. "We had some WWII vets in the parade last year, and now they are gone. This is the time to honor these wonderful people. When we asked them to participate, they were ecstatic, some were speechless, they are so humble."

The parade route starts at Stoner Creek Elementary and goes to Charlie Daniels Park. It's about three miles. Lee said there will be about 80 floats that represent businesses, personal and non-profits. There's a best float contest to represent commercial, non-commercial and grand marshal. Along with the floats there will be music, marching bands from Mt. Juliet and Wilson Central High schools, as well as Mt. Juliet Christian.

City Events Organizer CJ Kiekens expects several thousands to attend. She said the forecast looked good at about 59 degrees and sunny. And while this is the first year the Mt. Juliet Parade is at the same time as Nashville's, organizers are not worried a bit. They know their theme is unique, and, as Kiekens said, "our locals like to keep it local and stay true to their city and its events!"

There's also a planned Half Marathon and 5K event prior to the parade. Go to Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon & 5K for information.

To learn about traffic patterns and such, you can go to the MJPD website for details.

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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