Special ceremonies throughout the Tampa Bay region, Florida and the nation will recognize the sacrifices of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and those who are currently serving.
Find the Veterans Day events nearest you at a Department of Veterans Affairs website or check the listings below. And if you can’t make it to a ceremony or parade, there are alternative opportunities to honor a veteran year-round, check them out.
Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
FLORIDA STATE PARKS - Entry into all state parks is free to veterans and the general public (with the exception of the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park) as a tribute to Veterans Day. Here's an interactive map to locate the state parks nearest you: https://www.floridastateparks.org/interactive-map
PINELLAS COUNTY PARKS – Parking fees at county parks on Veterans Day are being waived to show appreciation for local veterans and their families. The offer applies to all visitors: all county boat ramps, Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Sand Key Park in Clearwater and Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde. Other county-managed parks offer free parking daily. A list of Pinellas County parks is available at www.pinellascounty.org/park.
SARASOTA - ROBARTS ARENA – 7 AM - The 2nd Annual Veterans Day Breakfast, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota features keynote speaker retired General Charles Shugg, a music medley and Vietnam Vets who will receive a commemorative pin in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The breakfast benefits the Sarasota Kiwanis Foundation and Goodwill Manasota's Veterans Services Program. Tickets, $25 per person. Register at 941-925-2970 or at SRQKiwanisVeterans-DayBreakfast@gmail.com.
ST. PETERSBURG – WILLIAMS PARK – 8 AM – The 2nd Annual Veterans Day Celebration featuring patriotic songs from the choir from the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and honored military veteran Willie Rogers, who served as a Master Sergeant for the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. The ceremony is planned in front of the Veterans Memorial at Williams Park, 1st Avenue and 4th Street N., St. Petersburg.
NEW PORT RICHEY - RIVER RIDGE CENTER FOR THE ARTS – 9 AM – The Pasco County School District holds a districtwide Veterans Day Ceremony featuring keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, the River Ridge ROTC, Pasco County Schools veteran alumnus and music provided by River Ridge Middle and High Schools, and the Cypress Elementary School Chorus. The winner of the Pasco Constitutional Officers Essay Contest will be announced. The event is at River Ridge Center for the Arts, 11646 Town Center Rd., New Port Richey.
TAMPA – PORT TAMPA BAY TERMINAL #2 – 9 AM-1 PM - Operation: REVEILLE, an event for veterans who are homeless, brings together a range of resources and organizations to help veterans with housing, employment, health benefits and other services. The goal is to connect 50 homeless veterans with housing on Veterans Day. The event is planned at Terminal #2, 651 Channelside Drive, and co-sponsored by Hillsborough County, the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative and the city of Tampa. Details on the program are available at THHI.org/operation-reveille-2015
SARASOTA – DOWNTOWN – 10 AM - The Sarasota Veterans' Day Parade, with the theme "When Duty Calls," starts at Main Street and Osprey Avenue and proceeds down Main to J. D. Hamel Park on Gulfstream. A Veterans Day Ceremony is planned for 11 a.m. after the parade ends. The special guest speaker is Army Col. (retired) Stephan D. Cork, the original commandant of Sarasota Military Academy. Sponsored by the Sarasota Patriotic Observance Committee.
TAMPA – JAMES A. HALEY VA - 10 am – The 8th Annual Veterans Day ceremony and parade, classic car show and Welcome Home event, on the hospital campus, 13000 Bruce B Downs Blvd., Tampa. There will be a brief ceremony in front of the Fisher House, followed by the parade, featuring 70 units. Col. Daniel H. Tulley, Commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, is the keynote speaker and former Army Paratrooper and military contractor Rick Cicero, is the grand marshal. Afterwards, Operation Helping Hand is holding a cookout. http://www.tampa.va.gov/
VENICE – PATRIOT’S PARK – 10 AM – A ceremony, sponsored by the Marine Corps League 643 of Nokomis, will include the presentation of the colors, the Venice Police, Venice High School Marine Corps JROTC and the Sun Coast Wind Ensemble. The event is at 800 Venetia Bay Blvd., just off Route 41. Following the ceremony, all veterans are invited to the American Legion NO-VEL Post 159 in Venice for the Veteran's Day Open House. 1770 E. Venice Ave..
BAY PINES VA – 11 AM - The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will host its annual Veterans Day Ceremony in the courtyard of buildings 2 and 37 on the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center campus, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd, St. Petersburg. The event is open to all veterans, their families and friends and the general public. Highlights include guest speakers from VA, MacDill Air Force Base and U.S. Rep. David W. Jolly, musical performances by the Florida Orchestra and the Keswick Christian School Choir; a special parade of colors provided by local Veteran Service Organizations and traditional military including a taps performance. A shuttle service will be available to provide transportation from parking lots to the ceremony area. www.baypines.va.gov/locations/directions.asp
BUSHNELL – FLORIDA NATIONAL CEMETERY – 11 AM - Keynote speaker Don Hahnfeldt, a retired Navy veteran and chairman of the Sumter County Commission, is a highlight of the Veterans Day Ceremony moderated by Steve Jerve of WFLA-TV and with music by the Pasco High School Band. Seating is limited, so you’re encouraged to bring chairs or blankets. Florida National Cemetery, 6502 SW 102nd Ave., Bushnell, FL.
HILLSBOROUGH VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK – 11 AM – The Annual Veterans Day of Remembrance ceremony will highlight JROTC students from several high schools including Bloomingdale, Chamberlain, Hillsborough, Middleton, Newsome and Riverview scheduled. The presentation includes students performing exhibition drills, presenting poems, and leading participants in the Pledge of Allegiance. The event at the Veterans Memorial Park, 3602 N. U.S. Highway 301, Tampa is free and open to the public.
SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY – 11 AM to 4 PM – A ceremony and service projects will mark Veterans Day starting with with keynote speaker Major General James S. Hartsell, USMC, at the Student Community Center followed by several student service projects: the Peace Paper Project from 12:30 to 4 PM; Theta Phi Alpha sorority “Sending Kisses to the Troops” care package project 12:30 to 4 PM; the Circle of Veterans providing resources and information for veterans 12:30 to 4 PM. A performance by the J2 Band will run from 1:30 to 4 PM. The campus is located at 33701 State Road 52, four miles east of Interstate 75 (Exit 285) in Saint Leo. Parking is available in the campus garage. The events are free and open to all veterans, active military, and the local community.
SARASOTA – ISLAND PARK – NOON – Florida Veterans for Common Sense will participate in the Sarasota Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony and follow it up with a picnic to build camaraderie among its members at Island Park, 5 Bayfront Dr, Sarasota. Set-up is on the south side of the park. Bring your own picnic food and some to share as well as seating and portable tables. Contact Mike Burns at : Mtburns44@gmail.com
LONG BOAT KEY – 2:30 PM – A Veterans Day Parade, starting at Bay Isles Road (behind the Publix) to Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Rd, will feature a VFW Color Guard, fire truck, and a marching band. A program: "Memorable Moments," is planned at the end of the parade followed by refreshments for participants. More info at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
SARASOTA NATIONAL CEMETERY – 2:45 PM - Opening ceremonies followed by the Annual Veteran's Day Mass at 3 p.m. with Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The service honors the men and women who have served our country and are serving us today. There will be ample seating and parking. Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 State Road 72 (Clark Road), Sarasota.
LARGO CENTRAL PARK - 5 PM – The city of Largo is presenting a ceremony with a keynote speaker, music and a color guard presentation is free and open to the public at the Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo.
TAMPA - WATER WORKS PARK – 5:30 PM – A free Veterans Day Observance and Patriotic Concert, will be hosted by the city of Tampa, 1710 Highland Ave. It will feature members from MacDill Air Force Base, U.S. Central Command and entertainment by the Eastern Hillsborough Community Band, as well as a salute to veterans and local Medal of Honor recipients. The event will also feature a display of several pieces of vintage military equipment stationed within the park.
SARASOTA HIGH SCHOOL – 7 PM – The Singing Sailors from Sarasota High School host a free, Veterans Salute concert with a guest choir from Booker Middle School. The public concert is at Sarasota High Auditorium, 1000 S. School Ave., Sarasota, FL.
TAMPA – UNIVERISTY OF TAMPA - 7:30 PM – A free concert of American music featuring organist Ryan Hebert and celebrating those who served in the Armed Forces is planned at the UT Sykes Chapel, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY – 8 to 10 PM – Moonlight Madness highlighting a student veteran color guard, a national anthem soloist and a mental toughness challenge game is planned on campus at the Marion Bowman Activities Center, 33701 State Road 52, four miles east of Interstate 75 (Exit 285) in Saint Leo. The event is free and open to all veterans, active military and the local community.
Thursday – Nov. 12
TAMPA – PORT TAMPA BAY TERMINAL #2 – 9 AM to 1 PM – A job fair and free classes on how to conduct a job search are open to veterans and persons with disabilities. The Mayor’s Alliance for Persons with Disabilities is sponsoring the event with 29 employers who are looking to hire veterans. It’s being held at Port Tampa Bay Terminal 2, 651 Channelside Dr., Tampa. Pre-register at www.tampagov.net/jobfair.
SARASOTA HIGH SCHOOL – 7 PM – The Singing Sailors from Sarasota High School host a free, Veterans Salute concert with a guest choir from McIntosh and Sarasota middle schools. The public concert is at Sarasota High Auditorium, admission. 1000 S. School Ave., Sarasota, FL.
Friday, Nov. 13
NEW PORT RICHEY – VET CENTER – 8:45 AM to4:15 PM – A full day of free sessions for veterans and their family members is being offered at the Pasco County Vet Center, 5139 Deer Park Drive in New Port Richey. The seminar starts with a session on Readjustment Counseling Services, followed every hour with a new topic: VA Home Based Primary Care/Medical Foster Homes, Veteran Burial Benefits, Elder Law & Changes to Caregiver Benefits, a free lunch, VA Claims, Veteran Preference and How to Use It, Employment, VA Mortgage/Real Estate. There’s only room for 30 at each session so pre-registration is requested. Call (727) 372-1854.
Saturday, Nov. 14
TAMPA – RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM – 7 PM – The University of South Florida Tillman Scholars and other military veterans will be recognized at half-time at this year’s Salute to Service Football Game featuring the University of South Florida vs Temple University. The USF Office of Veterans Services has partnered with USF’s Athletic Department to sponsor this event.
Free Offerings for Veterans & Active-Duty Military
RESTAURANTS - From Applebee’s to Village Inn – Military.Com has a full, national listing of restaurants offering free meals or discounts to veterans and active-duty military on Nov. 11, 2015 Veterans Day. Check here for the list and links.
HART BUS RIDES - Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will offer free rides to U.S. military veterans on Veterans Day, and to all members of the armed services, both active and retired, as well as to their family members and dependents. Riders are asked to show a valid military or veterans ID card when boarding any HART bus to qualify for a free ride. This offer is not valid for use of HARTPlus service or the TECO Line Streetcar System.
ATTRACTIONS & MUSEUMS – Several museums and local attractions are offering free admission to military personnel from active-duty to retired veterans and discounts for additional guests and family. You can check-out the Veterans Day admission offerings.