More than 150 entries are expected for the annual Aiken Marine Corps League Memorial Day Parade on Saturday in downtown Aiken
"This one is going to be exceptional," said Ed Hammons, the parade coordinator.
It's not the number of entries that makes this parade special, he said, it's the entries themselves - especially the group that will be eighth in the parade lineup.
Between 25 and 30 soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and are being treated at Fort Gordon will be featured guests in the parade.
These men and women are in the process of receiving a medical discharge from the Army or waiting for orders to return to their units, Mr. Hammons said.
"These kids have been wounded in combat, and they are sacrificing their time," he said. "Their morale is unreal."
The Signal Corps Band and members of the 15th Signal Brigade from Fort Gordon also will be in the parade, along with the 122nd Engineer Battalion of the South Carolina National Guard.
There will be an F-16 flyover and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the parade.
Many veterans groups will be a part of the parade in addition to members of area high school bands and Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps units and bands. Ronnie Young, an Aiken County councilman, will be the grand marshal.
There also will be beauty queens, clowns and hot rods in the parade, Mr. Hammons said. He said he wanted to urge as many people as possible to come out and "support the troops."
Lineup begins at 12:30 p.m. with the parade starting at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Park Avenue and Union Street. The parade route will continue down Park Avenue to Laurens Street and end at Laurens Street and Edgefield Avenue.
There is no fee for entries. For more information, call Mr. Hammons at 649-4019.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Aiken Marine Corps League Memorial Day Parade
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. lineup; 1 p.m. parade
WHERE: Park Avenue and Laurens Street