People often have things they always wanted to do or try, but never got around to it. For Bob Barbero, that thing was a Memorial Day parade.
Barbero didn’t want to attend one. He wanted to start one.
“It’s something I’ve had in my mind to do for 30 years,” he said. “It was one of those bucket list things.”
In his working years, Barbero never had the time to put it together. Now that he’s retired, he joined fellow members of the Knights of Columbus Assembly 2741 and Council 8104, and their first Memorial Day parade is scheduled for May 26 at 9 a.m.
The hardest part of organizing a parade, which took nearly a year, was the logistics and compliance issues, Barbero said. They wanted to set up a route that wouldn’t block any roads completely, making parade logistics especially challenging.
Traffic control also was important, as was setting up first aid stations, gathering permits and purchasing insurance.
But the easy part was getting participants. Barbero was pleasantly surprised to find that, once groups heard about the parade, they were eager to participate. Organizations associated with the Shriners and Boy Scouts contacted them to see if there was room in the parade, and around 25 different organizations will be participating on Monday.
“We’ve had so many great experiences that have just fallen into place,” Barbero said. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, representatives from MacDill Air Force Base, and the Wesley Chapel High School Marching Band also are participating. Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco will serve as grand marshal.
While the entire event took a lot of work to organize, one part of the parade route was known from the beginning. The Knights of Columbus work frequently with the Baldomero Lopez State Veterans Nursing Home at 6919 Parkway Blvd., and Barbero wanted to make sure their residents would be able to see the parade.
“I said, gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have a parade so these fellas could come outside and see the bands and all of this? And that’s exactly what is happening,” he said.
The parade begins at Dupree Lakes before turning at Ehren Cutoff and then Parkway Boulevard, where the nursing home is located. And while Barbero doesn’t know how many people will turn out on Monday, the Knights of Columbus are prepared for strong attendance with nearly 500 American flags to hand out to parade-goers.
But regardless of how many people will be at the Memorial Day parade, Barbero feels good about the organizational and community support, and the ability to pay tribute to those who made sacrifices around the world for everyone else here at home.
“I’m an American, and I think we should all do what we can, when we can,” Barbero said. “The main thing is to never forget what got us here, how many wonderful people that gave their lives so that we can walk around these streets in America and feel free.”
Published May 21, 2014
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