You may have noticed an increasing number of yellow ribbons along the River Walk in the past couple of weeks. People have been buying sponsorship ribbons to honor loved ones in advance of the third annual Armed Forces River Parade on Saturday evening, a parade that is considered unique in the country.
Janie and Randy Kiehl drive down from Kerrville every year to help Paseo del Rio hang hundreds of large yellow bows on the trees along the River Walk in preparation for the parade.
"Our son was killed in Nasiriyah (Iraq) back in 2003. And we show our support for all of our troops who have been deployed -- both those overseas and those in country -- to support them, to show that we're here for them," Randy Kiehl said.
Janie Kiehl said River Bend Park in Comfort was renamed in honor of her son, James, who was just 22 years old when he was killed in an ambush in Iraq that also killed eight others.
"Every single bow reminds us of our son," Janie said. "And they also remind us of our close friends that are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or have others scars due to battle."
Nancy Hunt, executive director of the Paseo del Rio Association, said many people have sponsored the yellow ribbons to honor fallen heroes or loved ones serving now.
"It provides us a way to humanize and put a face on the military," Hunt said. "It's not just 'the military.' These are people. These are loved ones. These are brothers and dads and sisters and moms."
The parade’s grand marshal this year is Dr. Granville Coggs, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African-American aviators in the U.S. armed forces. Parade floats will be decked out in red, white, and blue, representing each branch of the military and support groups.
Hunt said 55 cities are hosting syndicated broadcasts of the parade and it will be broadcast on the Pentagon Channel.
The parade is free but tickets for viewing at the Arneson River Theater are available for purchase.