If Los Banosans are truly going to appreciate the downtown Veterans Parade they’re going to have to keep both ears open and one eye on the parade and the other on the sky.
“We will have bands and student organizations from all of our schools – high schools, junior highs and elementary schools,” said parade organizer Rick Toscano, “and a giant flag will be carried by FAA students from both high schools. We will have military vehicles and representatives from all military branches. And, weather permitting, we will once again have the C-130 aircraft fly-over.”
This year, Los Banos Veterans – a single organization combining the Veterans of Foreign War Post 2487 and American Legion Post 166 – will be honoring all veterans, but in particular those who participated in the Desert Shield and Desert Storm campaigns, with a parade on Nov. 4. The local group is calling the parade “Welcome Home from the Sandbox.”
Along with so many schools and FFA chapters, many businesses have signed up to participate in the parade and others will provide convertibles from all eras to carry the honored veterans. The parade begins at 11 a.m. at the post office then proceeds to the Veterans Building on E Street near the fairgrounds.
“It looks like this will be the biggest parade since we started,” said Toscano. WWe would like, however, more veterans of Desert Shield and Desert Storm to contact us.”
He said the best way to connect is by calling Patricia McCoy at 209 587-5033 or Mike Hughes at 209 704-5301 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. “These veterans went through some difficult times,” said Toscano, “and they deserved to be honored.”
Before the parade the American Legion Auxiliary will sponsor a pancake breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. at the VFW Hall (615 E St.) for $7. After the parade the auxiliary will serve hot dogs and hamburgers with soda at the VFW Hall for $5.
THE FOLLOWING Thursday afternoon the New Bethany Guild’s boutique will be from 3 to 6 p.m. in the New Bethany Residential Care Center at Mercey Springs Road and Berkeley Drive.
The boutique is free and open to everyone; it features food, crafts and fellowship. Said guild member Diana Pfitzer, there will be homemade cakes, cookies and other goodies for sale, all prepared by “Los Banos’s finest bakers,” along with artisan jewelry, quilts, hand-painted ornaments, artisan soaps, soy candles and much more. This is a great time to do holiday shopping.
“One of the highlights is the raffle drawing,” Diana added. “Among this year’s many prizes, besides cash awards, are a monthly dinner at Espana’s for a year and a gift certificate to the Gallo Center.”
All proceeds from the fundraiser benefit New Bethany and its residents. New Bethany is a local residential care and skilled nursing center primarily for older adults, run by the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.
“The sisters have given so much of their time and their lives since New Bethany opened in 1999 to making the residents feel welcome and appreciated,” Diana said. “Everyone is treated with dignity, kindness and love.
“The holiday boutique is one way not only to help support the sisters,” Diana added, “but also to show appreciation for their care and dedication. In today’s world, where many nursing homes in the country give only poor service to the elderly, the sisters and staff of New Bethany seem like a breath of energizing fresh air. We are blessed to have this facility in our community.”
During the 46 years I’ve lived in Los Banos I have been fortunate to know many of the Franciscan Sisters and local veterans. They have in common a dedication to service, service to their God and country, caring about people who might not otherwise be appreciated and cared for with dignity.
I hope many people come to the parade and to the boutique to show their appreciation for these extraordinary people. And I hope many more veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan connect with McCoy or Hughes. The service these veterans selflessly provided to America needs to be recognized.
John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email email@example.com.