For more than two decades Onslow County has paid tribute to and thanked veterans with more than a mile-long parade.
This year’s parade will be 10 a.m. Saturday down Western Boulevard.
According to Linda Henninger, parade chairperson for Rolling Thunder, Chapter NC 5, the parade’s longevity is only a testament to the group’s desire to honor those who have served.
“The determination to show our thanks to the veterans who were there when we needed them and to acknowledge the sacrifices they made for us, is what keeps this going for us (Rolling Thunder),” said Henninger.
Although not much has changed in regards to the parade, it doesn’t downplay the importance of it, explained Henninger.
Each year the number of floats entered has grown, with more than 30 registered this year.
“Jacksonville being a military town we want to maintain this and keep doing this for the community,” said Henninger. “We want to acknowledge all that they did for us.”
As usual, the parade will begin at Coastal Carolina Community College, travel down Western, and end at the Brynn Marr Shopping Center.
According to Henninger, Piney Green Saddle Club will be joining the parade this year, adding to the list of animal-related floats.
“We always have service dogs and other animal groups in the parade,” said Henninger. “The horses will be a first.”
First through third place prizes will be awarded to the floats demonstrating the best Veterans Day theme.
“There are always a lot of ‘We support our troops’ signs and flags; that is generally how some floats show their support for veterans,” said Henninger.
Floats are created by a variety of service groups, local businesses, veteran organizations and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River representative groups.
According to Henninger, she has been coordinating the parade for the last three years.
Seeing the last float leave the college and head down Western to the awaiting crowd is always rewarding, but isn’t the best part.
Seeing the organization come together to create a staple for the community is, according to Henninger.
“Rolling Thunder members are all volunteers. They are veterans, non-veterans. Some ride motorcycles, some don’t. We all believe in the POW/MIA issue,” said Henninger. “All our members step up in this parade. We’ve got 60 to 70 members and they all come at 6 a.m. to help. As a family we get the groups in order and organized to put on this parade.”
Roads will be closed at 9:15 a.m. along the parade route.
For more information, visit www.rollingthundernc5.com.