Oct. 30, 2021 — On Thursday, Nov. 11, Florence will once again honor Veterans Day with a city-wide event. Like last year, the annual parade will instead be a car cruise, with participation from local veteran and service groups.
“It was a tough decision, but in everyone's best interest, it was decided to do a cruise again this year. That way, everyone can remain a little more safe,” said Jacquie Beveridge, member of the Florence Veterans Day Committee. “The main, important thing is to honor our vets and to recognize our grand marshals.”
The committee came to the decision due to the regulatory constraints of COVID-19 requirements.
The 2021 Veterans Honor Cruise will honor two veterans as grand marshals, Tony Cavarno and Paul Gargis. Both men have been active in the community and supporting other local veterans.
The Veterans Honor Cruise begins for the public at 1 p.m. There are multiple areas to watch the cruise throughout town.
“Last year’s cruise was better than anticipated with the number of people that were out there thanking the veterans with their signs,” Beveridge said. “It was so great to see all the kids and adults out there, and to be able to have the veterans from the three residential facilities outside.”
The cruise will stage at the Florence Christian Church, 990 Second St., go down Bay Street through Historic Old Town and to locations further in town, such as Spruce Point Assisted Living, 375 Ninth St., Shorewood Senior Living, 1451 Spruce St., and Regency Florence, 1951 21st St. The cruise will end in the Grocery Outlet parking lot, 2066 Highway 101.
People can view the cruise from any of those locations and are encouraged to make signs and cheer for the passing cars.
“Along Bay street would be good to watch, and so would along Spruce Street,” Beveridge said. “Last year, when we were going down Rhody Drive, there were people outside along the route. At The Mustard Seed, Deb (Vander Bogart) was out there with some people and a nice big sign saying, ‘We love our veterans.’ It was just really nice to see them all out there.”
In an official release, the committee stated: “In an effort to comply with both the State and Local COVID concerns, the committee will observe the following protocols for the Veterans Honor Cruise: 1) COVID protocol signs will be posted in the staging area; 2) ‘Observe appropriate COVID protocol during staging’ will be included in instructions & map distributed at staging; 3) A sanitation station will be provided at staging which will include masks and hand sanitizer.”
Staging begins for participants at 11 a.m.
This will be a vehicle cruise only, with no floats or walking entries. Vehicles are encouraged to be decorated with American flags, branch service flags and patriotic bunting.
People should also keep in mind that the cruise will be driving the posted speed limits.
“This is an informal event, so we have to be cautious about obeying all traffic laws, making sure that everybody's safe and mostly just to recognize our veterans,” Beveridge said. “We’re hoping that this is as successful as it was last year again. There was a great turnout for it. I think everybody was ready to get out there, be able to see people and share their patriotism.”
For more information about the 2021 Veterans Honor Cruise on Nov. 11, contact committee members Jim Swant, 541-968-9512, or Bob Brown, 541-997-3320.