TEMPLE TERRACE - The lyrics of country music artist Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" might best describe the sentiments of those who celebrate Independence Day in the fashion it is truly intended.
"I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free; and I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me."
The holiday, after all, marks the anniversary of the July 4, 1776, when the Congress adopted the nation's Declaration of Independence, a document that entitles every citizen the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
A common thread of gratefulness and joy for the freedom our forefathers and our military heroes have given us is bound to permeate the crowd that gathers for tomorrow's Temple Terrace's Fourth of July parade.
Coordinated by the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the City of Temple Terrace, the 1.5-hour event gets underway at 10 a.m. at Whiteway Drive and Gillette Avenue.
It's expected to feature 80-plus entrants who will travel south to Druid Hills Road, then west on Druid Hills to Ridgedale Road where it will head south and end at the Ridgedale Sports Complex near Temple Terrace Elementary School.
Maj. Gen. Luis Visot, U.S. Army Reserve and deputy commander of general operations at U.S. Army Reserve Command in Fort Bragg, N.C., will serve as the parade's grand marshal.
Visot, whose military career has spanned 30-plus years and has earned him Bronze Stars and many other accolades, is also executive director of the Joint Military Leadership Center at the University of South Florida, where his wife, Dr. Cindy Visot, is chief of staff and director of operations for the university's board of trustees. She will accompany him along the parade route.
"The parade's military theme demonstrates the whole reason why we celebrate," said third-year parade chairwoman Tracy Holt, branch manager of PNC Bank on 56th Street in Temple Terrace.
She pointed out that her organizational responsibilities are minimal thanks to the hard work and efficiency of the chamber's staff.
"Having the great support of the chamber is what allows me to do what I do," Holt said.
Following the parade, David Bullock of the Bullock Law Group at the corner of Bullard Parkway and Ridgedale Road will host his second consecutive July 4 community cookout, open to all area residents. In addition to hot dogs and hamburgers, there will be a deejay and entertainment for children that includes face painting and games.
"I grew up in Temple Terrace and the parade was always something I looked forward to," Bullock said. "But there was never anything going on in between the parade and the fireworks."
Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy, the chamber's executive director, said the evening festivities will get underway at 7 p.m. on the first fairway at the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club, 200 Inverness Ave.
Vendors will offer up at variety of treats and the cast of the Masque Community Theatre's upcoming "Once Upon a Mattress" production will entertain the crowd. The Mr. Grumpy Band will also be on hand to "play a little something for everyone, including kids," according to band member Wade Foskey.
"Our name is a sarcastic take on the people we are because we don't really take ourselves too seriously," said Foskey, noting that the group's specialty is classic rock infused with extra attitude to give it a bit of an edge.
Fireworks are slated for about 9:15 p.m.
"The chamber staff and the Fourth of July committee enjoy working with Corp. Patty Stanton and others from the Temple Terrace Police Department and city representatives from the fire department, public works and parks and recreation (departments) to organize this annual event," Sparks-McGlinchy said. "It brings thousands of people to the community to enjoy a fun-filled, patriotic day."
Contact Sparks-McGlinchy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 989-7004.