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USO San Antonio Floats Proudly in Armed Forces Day River Parade

Thursday, May 24, 2012

By Christian Pelusi 

As part of San Antonio's effort to promote and maintain the now famous River Walk, the city and non-profit group Paseo del Rio Association plan approximately 20 events annually to bring denizens and visitors to the banks of the San Antonio River. Make no mistake: USO San Antonio brought out its big guns to make its presence known at the city’s inaugural Armed Forces Day River Parade.

Three of the USO Liberty Bells took center stage on the USO barge as part of the 25-flotilla parade that brought an estimated 1,000 people to the River Walk. All the barges were designed by CSE Events and the USO barge was created through consultation with USO San Antonio and sponsorship from USO Worldwide Strategic Partner Lockheed Martin.

“When I first spoke with the rep from CSE and asked what she envisioned for the USO float, she said that they would like to go with an entertainment type theme for us,” said USO San Antonio Director Shari Jenson. “She said she envisioned a large jukebox backdrop and an oversized microphone, among other things. I knew immediately that we needed the USO Liberty Bells for our music. They came and they were absolutely perfect.”

According to Jenson, floats included all branches of the military, veterans and military support groups, among others. All had festive patriotic decorations and costuming and each float had a small music ensemble.

“USO San Antonio was absolutely thrilled and honored to be a part of the inaugural ‘Here's to Our Heroes’ Military River Parade,” Jenson said. “Honestly, when I found out that Lockheed Martin had sponsored a float for us, I jumped up and down! I knew the parade was coming up but had come to terms with the fact that we may not be participating.”

As Jenson said, with four distinct military bases employing 90,000 men and women and San Antonio boasting the title of "Military City USA," being left out of the city’s first Armed Forces River Parade would have been tough. Thankfully, the only emotions from the day were joyful ones.

“I love and appreciate my job because I love and appreciate those we serve,” she said. “When we turned the corner near the Rivercenter mall and saw our service men and women from the various military branches standing there, I couldn't hold back my tears. Any opportunity I have to participate in a military appreciation event is a great day for me; this event was above and beyond!”

* See more photos from the USO’s time at the Armed Forces Day river parade.

* For more coverage of the event, watch a video on the website.

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* Learn more about the USO's Honor, Salute and Celebrate campaign.

* Help the USO remember those who served and sacrificed by supporting our troops and their families with a tax-deductible donation. Donate today. 

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