The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Gary Boudoin wants to make sure veterans participating in the upcoming Veterans Parade will be able to pick him out in a crowd.
So Boudoin, a U.S. Navy veteran, will don a patriotic “top hat” to be visible during the Veterans Parade, set for 11 a.m. Saturday. The veterans will begin gathering and fellowshipping at 10 a.m. in the PN-G High School parking lot across from the fire station. The parade begins on Merriman and proceeds down the street to Port Neches Riverfront Park.
“I’m telling everyone who called (veterans) to look for the guy in the stupid hat,” Boudoin said while wearing the hat at his home in Port Neches.
The Port Neches man came up with the idea to honor veterans when he realized there are no such parades in the area. His father, Bobby, was an Army veteran who served in the Korean War and his father-in-law, Bill Heller, was a captain in the Navy who served in Vietnam.
Since taking charge of the parade, Boudoin has heard from numerous veterans, veterans groups and active duty members of the military who are equally excited about the parade, he said.
“They have been calling me non-stop,” he said. “I had a call from a submarine association who will attend and bring representatives of all branches of the military and a call from a man whose father was a WWII veteran. The man restored an Army Jeep to original specs and the Jeep has his father’s platoon number on it.”
The parade will also feature a 16-foot float with veterans from all over, a flag brigade and honor group, members of the Texas Patriot Guard Riders group and more.
The public is invited to line the street in support of the veterans.
Terry Schwertner, mayor pro tem for the city of Port Neches, lauds Boudoin for putting together the patriotic parade.
“I think it’s a big asset to Port Neches and hope a lot of veterans come out and participate,” Schwertner said. “And we want citizens to come out and support the veterans and active military duty personnel.”
The parade, which began with the simple dream of honoring veterans, has become a labor of love for Boudoin. When asked how he feels about the event, he responded quickly.
“It makes me want to cry. It’s a privilege,” Boudoin said. “I hope I don’t choke up. This is dear to me.”
At the end of the parade, when the group stops at the park, they will enter the Entertainment Complex where a performer will sing the National Anthem and afterwards, if they choose to, the veterans will be able to grab a beer and share some fellowship, he said.
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