ST. PETE BEACH – The Veterans of South Pinellas County are broadening the scope of their annual fundraising event to include first responders.
This year’s Salute to the Military and First Responders, Saturday, March 29, will kickoff with the traditional pancake breakfast on the roof of the Hurricane Restaurant. Pancakes, bacon and sausage will be prepared by a team of chefs from the Seminole Hard Rock Café and served from 8 to 11 a.m.
Down below, Ninth and 10th avenues, along with a portion of Gulf Way, will be closed to make way for a street fair, classic car show and an entertainment stage.
The street fair will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and feature vendors selling food, drinks and arts and crafts along with a craft beer garden with wine and sponsor’s booths. A classic car show presented by Premium Productions also begins at 8 a.m. and military exhibits and activities will be open at 10 a.m.
A kids fishing tournament will take place from noon to 2 p.m.
Six bands will take the stage from noon until 10 p.m. The lineup includes Tommy “Bahama” Arnold, The Sons of the American Legion All Star Band, Channel Z Band, Funky Seeds, Horses Wild and Fremont John Acoustic Thunder.
The one big break in entertainment will be for the military induction ceremony in the afternoon.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” said event chairman Alan Collins about last year’s inaugural induction ceremony where Medal of Honor recipient Gary Littrell, a retired U.S. Army veteran, swore in more than 30 new recruits.
“We’ve got vehicles from the 320th MP Company and they are bringing some cool stuff,” said Collins. Service members from MacDill Air Force Base also are participating. There also will be antique fire truck rides.
Members of the firefighters union will serve hot dogs and burgers from noon to 3:30 p.m., and tasty ribs from 3:30 on. The Veterans of South Pinellas County will be serving clam chowder. In addition, Jaxson’s on the Boulevard, Gennaro’s Ristorante Italiano and Chick-Fil-A of St. Pete Beach will have booths.
Organizers are printing 700 event T-shirts that will be for sale sponsored by restaurants in Pass-A-Grille and St. Pete Beach.
Tickets for the pancake breakfast will be available at the door. They are $10 for adults and $5 for children. First responders and military members in uniform eat for free.
Patrons for this year’s Salute to the Military and First Responders include Sea Critters, Allen Collins Realty, and Rotary St. Pete West. Navy Federal Credit Union, American Integrity Insurance, ATM Central, Solutions Insurance and The Island Reporter.