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Hooray for Heroes celebrates 12 years Saturday

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By Robert Villanueva

Celebrating its 12th year this weekend, Hooray for Heroes will honor active, reserve and retired military personnel, law enforcement, first responders and their families, and recognizes a select group during the celebration that takes place Armed Forces Day.

The event annually draws an estimated 3,000 visitors and is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the adjoining parking lots of Stithton Baptist Church and Radcliff Walmart Supercenter.

The focus this year with a special recognition will be military spouses, said Greg Lowe, co-chairman of the event’s board of directors with Don Cecil.

“That’s something we probably should have done a long time ago,” Lowe said.

Last year, Desert Storm veterans received special recognition. Next year, Lowe said, special recognition is to be provided for first responders: police, fire, EMS and dispatchers.

Lowe said this year’s recognition is for active duty, retired, reserve and veteran spouses. After a guest speaker scheduled for 2 p.m., each spouse will receive a special coin during a presentation. The coin, which has a base pentagonal shape includes the words, “The military spouse/Homefront Hero.”

“We ordered 2,000 coins, so I don’t think we’re going to run out,” Lowe said.

Hooray for Heroes was created by community members Randy Acton and Will Stolz in 2006 to honor active, reserve and retired military personnel, law enforcement, first responders and their families.

The event is free to those honored, and vendors are not allowed to sell merchandise.

Lowe said visitors typically are waiting for the area to open to start the festival. Food lines open at 11 a.m. for a free lunch that includes hamburgers and hot dogs, all available to those honored with ID. Others can purchase lunch.

About 100 vendor booths will open, too, each providing free giveaways and door prizes worth $50 or more, which guests can register to win.

Part of the celebration includes entertainment, and this year is no exception.

At noon, Slippery When Wet, which bills itself as “The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute,” takes the stage. The band will perform until 1:30 p.m., when preparations start for the 2 p.m. special recognition.

About 1:45 p.m., the food lines will shut down to avoid distraction during the special presentation, Lowe said. They will re-open following the presentation, which should be about 2:30 p.m.

Food will be served “until everybody’s full or all the food is gone, whichever comes first,” Lowe said.

Additionally, ice cream is provided for visitors.

Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs De­puty Commissioner Heather French Henry will be on hand during the event, too, Lowe said.

“She is a great, great friend of the veteran,” Lowe said.

The celebration includes a variety of activities and attractions, too.

A “sticky wall,” consisting of fabric fastening material that adheres to material worn by participants will be among the attractions. Furry Friends ride-on plush animals, which have proven popular with young visitors, will return to the event.

Additionally, giant slides and a bouncy house will be offered. Horse rides also will be available.

Shuttle service to and from the event is free and runs from Redmar Plaza and Radcliff Square Shopping Center, where visitors can park free. The shuttle service begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m.

“It’s a good event,” Lowe said. “It’s family-oriented and it’s free.”

Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.