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HomeAt Home & BeyondFirst Hernando Beach Heroes Boat Parade this Fourth of July

First Hernando Beach Heroes Boat Parade this Fourth of July

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This Independence Day, those who have given their valiant efforts to keep our country free will be honored and acknowledged as the Hernando Beach Yacht Club (HBYC) sponsors its first ever July 4th Boat parade to support our nation’s Veterans. The Hernando Beach Heroes Parade is a dynamic, multifaceted event set to benefit the Florida Veterans Foundation. This is an organization that was founded in 2008 by the Florida Legislature and supported by individual and corporate donations, grants, fundraisers and direct public support. Their mission is to provide emergency and support services, as well as programs for veterans and their families across the state of Florida. This event’s platinum sponsor is Gulf Coast Fishing Homes Realty.

The Heroes Dinner at the HBYC will be celebrated on July 1, with a cocktail hour at 5:30 pm and dinner at 7 pm. The cost is $25, and the event will include a BBQ dinner buffet featuring chicken breast, pulled pork, baked potato casserole, barbecue beans, cabbage slaw, original barbecue sauce, dinner roll, cake and coffee, and live entertainment by Take Two, featuring Tammie-Sue and Lynn. An online silent auction also will be part of this event and it will run from June 15 – July 5. A display of silent auction merchandise will be presented at the dinner.

And the Heroes Boat Parade will be celebrated on July 4, starting at noon. You can watch the event from a free parade watch party taking place at the Hernando Beach Yacht Club, 4163 Shoal Line Blvd. Preceding this event at 11 am there will be the presentation of a Quilt of Valor to an honored vet. A Quilt of Valor is a handmade quilt that is given to a service member or veteran who has been touched by war. “At Christmas time we host Christmas parades on behalf of Toys for Tots, which are successful,” said Commodore Ralph Kennedy of the Hernando Beach Yacht Club. “For a Fourth of July boat parade, what better way to celebrate than to benefit a charity that benefits those who fight for our freedoms.”

Kennedy also sees the celebration as the ultimate community event. “We want to get the yacht club more involved in the community,” said Kennedy. “We want to get the community involved. And we all can help a good cause, helping those who fought for our freedom.” Kennedy and his cohorts at the yacht club selected this charity because of its capacity to provide financial aid and other help for veterans in trauma. “Too many veterans fall between the cracks, we need to help,” he said.

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Guests at the Heroes event can aid the vets in a variety of ways. People can register their vessel for the boat parade for $50 at https://app.bidbeacon.com//#/auction/HPCYCH/item/67942. People can register to attend the July 1st Heroes Boat Parade Dinner for $25 each, with dinner catered by Dickey’s BBQ at Hernando Beach Yacht Club. This event will feature a social hour at 5:30 pm and then dinner at 7 pm, and entertainment by the Take Two duo. Purchase online one dinner at a time, or contact [email protected] for multiple ticket purchases. People can also bid on a full spectrum of fun and luxury items via an online auction at (https://app.bidbeacon.com//#/auction/HPCYCH/details). “We’re offering gift certificates to local restaurants, a bed and breakfast, flight school, airboat trips, kayak rentals, trips, and more,” said Kennedy. “Our local businesses have so impressed me with their willingness to participate.”

Also a part of the July 4 festivities will be a presentation of a Quilt of Valor to a deserving vet. To be considered a Quilt of Valor, the quilt must be a specific size, have a label complete with the required information, be awarded (it is not a gift) and be recorded. As of early 2022, at least 300,000 Quilts of Valor have been created, including one crafted by Hernando Beach Yacht Club chaplain and certified quilting teacher Stella DeJesus Kelly. “A quilt is something from your heart,” she said. “Something that you design and give to please someone else.”

An avid quilter since the age 6, Kelly is a member of several quilting clubs and also makes clothes and other crafts. The Quilt of Valor, her latest work which took her nearly three months to make, holds special meaning for her. “I made my first Quilt of Valor for my brother, a veteran. Freedom isn’t free. We owe this to those who give so much. And some gave all,” she said.

A Quilt of Valor, in Kelly’s view, is a highly symbolic masterwork. And although she has yet to meet or know the recipient of her latest Quilt of Valor, she is honored to bestow it on a deserving veteran. “This quilt is an equivalent to a Purple Heart that a civilian can give,” she said. “A quilt equals healing.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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