Spectators placed their hands over their hearts as a parade of veterans and supporters marched passed hundreds of people during the Tamaqua American Legion's annual Veterans Day Parade Saturday.

"This was the best spectator turnout I've ever seen," said Brittany Sheidy, Tamaqua resident and volunteer with the Tamaqua Raider Band.

"In past years, only a few would come out and watch the parade," Joel Perry, commander, Tamaqua American Legion, said. "During this year's parade, there were probably over a thousand spectators who lined Broad Street."

In addition, both sides of Broad Street were lined with balloons placed by American Legion volunteers.

While marching with the vets, Pat Clemens handed out more than 400 small flags to children and veterans.

"There were so many spectators, I ran out of flags half way through," Clemens said.

"I'm proud to be a veteran and to participate in this annual parade," said Iraq war Marine Corps vet Vince Gallagher of Lansford. Soldier Jonathan Schuster, with Charlie 109th, Hometown, volunteered his day to drive the unit's M-1097-A1 HMMWV heavy assault truck.

One of the highlights was the Tamaqua Raider Band, as it played patriotic music for the veterans and spectators.

Members of the Tamaqua American Legion expressed their appreciation to a number of groups that participated in the parade, such as all Tamaqua fire companies, Tuscarora fire company, Tamaqua Rescue Squad, Tamaqua Ambulance, Hometown National Guard, Tamaqua Raider Band, Tamaqua Girl Scout, Tamaqua Lions Club, Tamaqua Salvation Army, local businesses and more.

Parade coordinator Andrew Leibenguth, American Legion historian, said next year's parade theme will be "Red, White and Blue," adding, this Veterans Day Parade was the first of many bigger and better Veterans Day parades in Tamaqua.

Many residents on Broad Street went out of their way to decorate for passing veterans.

"Veterans Day means so much to us," said Lori White and Jeff Weaver, West Broad Street. "Where would we be without our heroic veterans?"