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Suncoast residents honor and remember veterans with parades in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Everybody loves a good parade and there were great ones in Sarasota and Palmetto.

Thousands of folks were showing off their patriotic spirit on this Veterans Day.

"This is more about the guys who didn't make it back, this helps me remember how and why I got my freedom," said Mark Castle, a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy for 23 years.

Woodie Brewer served in the Navy for 21 years.  He tells us he's thrilled to be a spectator at this year's Sarasota parade.

"Some parades I ride in, some parades I watch, I like to watch more though," said Brewer.

The atmosphere was festive and filled with a lot of pomp and circumstance.  It brought large crowds including Leanza and her 3-year-old son.  She says many people in her family have served or are currently serving.

"Very, very important, these people go out everyday risking their lives for us so we're safe," said Leanza, a Sarasota resident, "it's just nice to show our support."

In Manatee County, the parade started at the fairgrounds in Palmetto and ended up at Sutton Park.  Congressman Vern Buchanan was one of the dignitaries showing his support.

"We need to do more for our veterans, we do spend 200 billion a year, but we got to make sure those dollars work in a better way for our veterans," said Buchanan.

People all over Manatee County lined the streets to show their appreciation for the sacrifices veterans have made.

"We just need to honor them more and show them a lot of respect that they haven't gotten," said Marcia Bowery, a spectator at the Manatee County Veterans Parade.

Army Veteran Gill Ruderman has extra reason to be proud.  He is Manatee County's Veteran of the Year.

"We did our job, we are proud of what we've accomplished," said Ruderman.

12-year-old Bradenton Boy Scout Alex was enjoying every moment of the Sarasota parade.  His day includes a lot more than just sitting and watching the parade.

"I'm going to be doing some Veterans Day service later,' said Alex, "so I want to see the parade before I do."

The Sarasota parade ended at Five Points Park in Sarasota where there was a special ceremony.