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‘Our Heroes’ theme of Armed Forces parade

Symbolic of the partnership that exists between this community's military and civilian components, Fort Sill Commanding General Wilson Shoffner and Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch will ride together as co-parade marshals in Saturday's Armed Forces Day Parade.

"Our Heroes, A Purple Heart City" is this year's Armed Forces Day theme, and one of three plaques to be awarded in the float contest will go to the entry that best incorporates that theme. The other two will be presented on the basis of originality and overall presentation, according to Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Taylor Burgess.

Floats need to be in place by 8 a.m. Saturday to be judged. The staging area will be on Southwest C Avenue from Southwest 6th Street west to Southwest 1st Street, around the courthouse square and in the Central Mall parking lot.

Lawton High School has already committed its marching band, its cheerleaders and its High Steppers for the parade. Also coming from the Spencer community in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area will be the Star-Spencer High School Marching Band. Eisenhower High School will have its Junior ROTC cadets march in the parade. Other entries so far include Paws With Love Therapy Dogs, Kealii's School of Polynesian Dance, the Comanche Nation Fair, the Cache Creek Tractor Club, the Shriners, some riding clubs and, as you might expect in an election year, various political candidates.

Fort Sill will bring service members and military vehicles to the lineup, while the City of Lawton and Comanche County will have various emergency response vehicles.

"It's really to honor the military and show our appreciation for them, and also for the public to see it. Everyone hears the booms that go on every day at Fort Sill. So, it's really a chance for kids to see, wow, that's what we have right in our own backyard," Burgess said of this longstanding local tradition.

Although the City of Lawton hasn't been billed as a sponsor in previous years, Burgess said the other two sponsors have always worked really closely with the city to put this on.

"There's no way that we could do this parade without their support and without their help, because they are the ones who block the streets off and provide extra police support that day," she said.

The procession will go west on Southwest C Avenue from the starting point at Southwest 6th Street at 10 a.m. Saturday. At South 11th Street, the parade will proceed northward on Heroes Boulevard/South11th/Fort Sill Boulevard to Northwest Ferris Avenue. The reviewing stand will be on the median at West Gore Boulevard.

The parade route is the same as last year's, with one exception. Those entries that will be returning to the staging area will use 4th Street instead of 2nd Street. This means 2nd Street will not have to be closed, Burgess said.

The parade has three sponsors this year: the City of Lawton, the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce. Emceeing the parade will be Indie Michaels and Albert Rivas.

The fun doesn't end when the parade is over. Parade chairman Melinda Kukurich has been working with the Holiday in the Park Committee, Great Plains Area AMBUCS and Comanche Nation Casino to put on an Armed Forces Day Celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on the east side of Elmer Thomas Park. There will be static military displays, face painting, bounce houses, interactive games, food trucks, live music and a U.S. Army recruiting trailer complete with obstacle course.

Performers include Sulphuric, NDN TYMZ, Matt Moran (Acoustic) and the Casey Abbe. Booths include the Lawton Family YMCA, Fidelity Communications, MetroPCS, T-Mobile, Lilla Rose Hair, Aurelia Jackson, Wind River Harley Davidson, Paparazzi Jewelry, Kayley Sandy, 402 BBQ & Grill, Kona Ice, Fry Daddy's and Supreme Ice Cream. Emcees will be Indie Michaels and Emmanuel Alfaro.

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