Bluffton hosts its first Veteran's Day parade

American flags waved beneath a cloudless blue sky as more than 20 patriotically festooned vehicles and floats made their way through Bluffton's Old Town on Wednesday morning for the Veteran's Day parade.

The sounds of "This Land Is Your Land" blared from a sound system affixed to the roof of a van and blended with marching songs belted out by nearby JROTC cadets from Bluffton High School.

School children lined up along Calhoun Street and Promenade residents stood on their second-story balconies to send wish well the dozens of veterans passing by.

The event, organized by the local American Legion Post 205, was the first in the town's history.

The post was formed in 2005. Since then, Legionnaires had been traveling to Beaufort to take part in the Veteran's Day parade there.

Until Wednesday.

Legionnaire Mike Miranda, the lead organizer of Bluffton's parade, said local veterans finally asked themselves, "Why are we going to Beaufort when we can do our own parade here?"

They began reaching out to town officials, as well as Old Town business owners and residents for support.

Once they heard about the idea, the pieces just fell into place, said Miranda, who served in the U.S. Army during the 1960s.

"Everybody cooperated very well."

Mayor Lisa Sulka, who took in the parade atop a decked out red, white and blue float, said, "We love our military, so everybody jumped in" to help get the inaugural parade organized.

More than twenty organizations participated Wednesday, from car clubs to Cub Scouts.

Boy Scouts from Troop 241 in Bluffton held banners and flags and marched near the front of the parade.

"We try to get our kids involved with every veterans event that we can," troop leader Ray Rengier said. "We want to bestow onto (the scouts) ... how we got our freedom and why we are free -- and that's 100 percent because of our military and our veterans."

In addition to the participants, several hundred spectators watched the parade sanke its way from Town Hall on Bridge Street to the north end of the Promenade.

"It's really cool (Bluffton) is doing this," Sam Taibi said. "My dad was (a Vietnam War veteran), so it's nice to be able to be out here thinking about him."

Miranda said the turnout, from both participants and spectators, far exceeded his expectations.

Legionnaire Bob "Brother" Kitty agreed.

"It means the world when all the community and civic people come out to support you," said Kitty, a Marine during the 1970s. "It's awesome."

Because of Wednesday's success, American Legion Post 205 plans to make the parade an annual Veteran's Day tradition in Bluffton, Miranda said.

Follow reporter Lucas High on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.

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