'Salute to the Vets' and Veterans Day parade draw hundreds to Santa Barbara

Military parade among the highlights

Veterans Day weekend parade puts on...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A special "Salute to the Vets" event and the annual Veterans Day Parade drew hundreds to downtown Santa Barbara and the waterfront Sunday.

At noon there was a large crowd forming on both sides of State Street to see the caravan of military equipment and participants in the parade.  The Santa Barbara Police department provided rolling block by block street closures.

The parade featured a Huey helicopter from the Vietnam War,  military vehicles, and several marching groups representing all branches of the armed services.

Police Chief Lori Luhnow was in one of the opening entries riding while standing up in a jeep.   

Assemblymember Monique Limon and State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson also participated.

The Santa Barbara Trolley Company and Jump on the School Bus businesses provided vehicles for  veterans who were unable to march.

The parade was full of color from vintage pin-up girls and the award winning La Boheme Dancers who performed in classic red, white and blue sailor outfits.

A large group of motorcycle riders were also in the lineup, many with American flags from their bikes.  They provided a growling finale as they went through the State Street underpass.

Along Cabrillo Boulevard, the street was closed briefly for the parade and the arrival of parachutists that came from a perfectly timed drop somewhere above the mixed clouds.

The skies also had several military planes from the World War Two era making laps over the parade route and beach.

At the Western Carriage Museum on Castillo Street, a five hour tribute to veterans took place after the parade.

Pop-ups with vets clothing, and support services were around the outside of the large courtyard. 

Veterans organizations including the Pierre Claeyssens Foundation offered materials to help veterans and it was part of the groups week long efforts that began last Saturday at the annual Military Ball attended by 700 guests.

A silent auction took place inside the museum.

Military equipment was on display for photos including a tank.

Many of those attending had their military uniforms on, including some who served the country decades ago.

Music was provided by the Phantom Pomps with an upbeat driving Rockabilly sound that encouraged people to dance throughout the event.

There were also special dance performances interlaced in the show as if a USO tour had hit the town.

The host Drew Wakefield enthusiastically reminded the crowd how much  veterans mean to the community and the country.   He also rallied the spectators to cheer for special events including the Pin-Up Queen contest that had about 20 entries.


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