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VSPC to Host 4th Annual Salute
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By Betsy Judge - The Veterans of South Pinellas County are broadening the scope of their annual fundraising event to include first responders. This year’s Salute to the Military and First Responders, Mar. 29, will kick off with the traditional pancake breakfast on the roof of the Hurricane restaurant. Pancakes bacon and sausage will be prepared by a crack team of chefs from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and served from 8 - 11 a.m. Down below, 9th and 10th Avenues along with a portion of Gulf Way will be closed to make way for a street fair, classic car show and an entertainment stage.
The street fair will be open from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and feature vendors selling food, drinks and arts and crafts along with a craft beer garden with wine and sponsors’ booths. The classic car show presented by Premium Productions also begins at 8 a.m. and military exhibits and activities will be open at 10 a.m. There is also a kid’s fishing tournament from noon - 2 p.m. Six bands will take the stage from noon until 10 p.m. The lineup includes Tommy “Bahama” Arnold, The Sons of the American Legion All Star Band, Channel Z Band, Funky Seeds, Horses Wild and Fremont John Acoustic Thunder.
The one big break in entertainment will be for the military induction ceremony in the afternoon. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” says event chairman Alan Collins about last year’s inaugural induction ceremony where Medal of Honor recipient CSM Gary Littrell, U. S. Army (Ret.) swore in more than 30 new recruits. “We’ve got vehicles from the 320th MP Company and they are bringing some cool stuff,” says Allen. Service members from MacDill Air Force Base are participating.
There will also be antique fire truck rides. “The Firefights Union will be serving dogs and burgers from 12 - 3:30 p.m. and their famous ribs from 3:30 on, and the Veterans of South Pinellas County will be serving famous clam chowder,” says Allen about the food. Jaxson's on the Boulevard, Gennaro's Ristorante Italiano and Chick-fil-A of St. Pete Beach will have booths as well. “I think there are a lot of reasons to come to this event,” says Allen.
"I think the causes are outstanding.” Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Building Homes for Heroes and Support The Troops in Wesley Chapel. The first responder charity is the Gold Shield Foundation which provides support to the families of officers killed in the line of duty. “I think supporting these causes is paramount.” Allen sites a number of other reasons to attend. “If you’ve got kids, come for the kids that day.
They’ll have a great time at the fishing tournament,” says Allen. They will also have a rock climbing wall, professional clowns, and a magician to entertain the younger crowds. “If you want to come for the pancakes, come for the pancake breakfast; the food is outstanding. If you like cars shows, come for that; we’ll have great cars. People love street fairs,” continued Allen. “They like vendors, they like action, they like to drink beer, and we have very good entertainment all day long and there is plenty of room to dance. And we have a great line-up of restaurants too.”
They are printing and selling 700 event T-shirts sponsored by restaurants in Pass-a-Grille and St. Pete Beach. Tickets for the pancake breakfast and are available at the door and are $10 for adults, $5 for kids and first responders, and military in uniform eat for free. Patrons for this year’s Salute to the Military and First Responders include Sea Critters, Allen Collins Realty, Rotary St. Pete West. Navy Federal Credit Union, American Integrity Insurance, ATM Central, Solutions Insurance and The Island Reporter.
For more information go to www.vetsofspc.org and find them and like them on Facebook.