Oceanside will host one of the West Coast’s biggest military homecomings since World War II this Saturday with its “Proud to be An American Day” celebration. More than 100,000 people are expected to join in the festivities officially marking the return of American military personnel from Operation Desert Storm.
About 1,000 Marines will form a patriotic and military parade beginning at 10 a.m. Following a route along Hill Street from Wisconsin to Mission Avenue, the parade will then head west two blocks toward the beach.
U.S. Marines Lt. Col. Clifford Acree and Chief Warrant Officer Guy Hunter, both of Camp Pendleton and former prisoners of war, will be official parade Grand Marshals. Actor Ricardo Montalban has been named Honorary Grand Marshal.
Tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment like that used during Operation Desert Storm will be featured in the parade. Military Bands, including Camp Pendleton’s First Division Band, local high school marching bands and patriotic floats will also participate.
After the parade at noon, a full day of music, entertainment and children’s activities is scheduled near the city’s public beaches and pier.
Television personalities include comedian Yakov Smirnoff and actor David Carradine. David Foster and Voices that Care have joined with Texas blues band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and blues guitarist Edgar Winter to headline the entertainment on the Fieldstone Stage at the Oceanside Bandshell.
The Mar Dels rock ‘n’ roll band, The Girls Next Door USO and Miss Armed Forces of 1987, Shelly Michelle, will perform at the Bandshell.
A second stage, set up at Mission Avenue and Hill Street, will feature Keri Ann Kaiser singing the Star Spangled Banner, Earl Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors, the MiraCosta Music Men Barbershop Style and the Obeah Reggae Group.
A full program of children’s performers will be at the Civic Center Stage at Mission and 3rd streets. Sea World’s 18-piece band, clowns, magicians and characters from “The Simpsons” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” will perform.
All entertainment is free, although seating may be limited at some events. Parking for “Proud to be an American Day” will be available at Camp Pendleton’s Main Gate, which may be entered from Interstate 5 at the northern end of Oceanside.
North County Transit District buses will provide shuttles from the Camp Pendleton parking area to downtown Oceanside every five minutes. Additional shuttles provided by SeaJet Cruise Lines will connect the downtown with Oceanside Harbor.
For further information on parking and transportation, call 1-800-350-SURF.