More than 5,000 spectators lined the sidewalks along Main Street in Pleasanton Sunday for the 2012 Tri-Valley Veterans Day Parade and a patriotic program of music and messages that followed at the Veterans Memorial Building.
The 16th annual event was sponsored by the Pleasanton-based Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 and American Legion Post 237 and the city of Pleasanton. It's now the largest event of its kind in the Bay Area.
The parade and ceremony were held exactly one week ahead of the day the country will celebrate Veterans Day this year, a tradition for the Pleasanton observance so that veterans can join in other celebrations on Nov. 11.
This year's event featured military and veteran color guards, marching bands, horses, jeeps, Humvees and other military vehicles. Marching along the way also will be Girl Scout and Boy Scout organizations, Scottish pipe and drum units, the Alameda County Sheriff's Posse, elected officials from Tri-Valley cities and veterans from Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea and even World War II.
The U.S. Army Band and the Foothill High School marching band played patriotic music as they marched in the parade.
New to this year's parade were three flyovers, the first by two T-38 jet fighter planes, followed 15 minutes later by a Vietnam era Huey helicopter and then a Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter.
The theme of this year's parade was "Purple Hearts, Honoring Those Wounded in the Service of Our Country." Special tribute was given to Gold Star families who were in the parade and then introduced and applauded at the ceremony in the Veterans Memorial Building. Several wore shirts with an image of their late son's face on them.
Retired Army Sgt. Victor Thibeault served as the parade Grand Marshall. He served in Afghanistan, was awarded both a Silver Star and a Purple Heart, and is a member of the Army's Wounded Warrior program.
The parade review officer and keynote speaker was Navy Capt. William Waters (Ret).