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Oklahoma City's St. Patrick's Day Parade embraces military veterans

The 30th annual Oklahoma City St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday had all the traditional elements — bagpipes, Irish step dancers and beauty queens. It also extended a welcome back to troops who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
by Juliana Keeping Published: March 18, 2012

Girl Scouts on floats, waving signs that read “Thank you soldiers” and a special tribute to Oklahoma troops were Oklahoma City St. Patrick's Day Parade additions not lost on members of the sizable crowd that amassed in Bricktown for the 30th annual event.

Two-time Iraq War veteran Cachet Hampton lives on Tinker Air Force Base with her family: husband Jamarl Hampton, a military training leader at Tinker, and daughters Janyah, 4, and Jaydah, 8 months.

Cachet Hampton said she noticed the signs of gratitude peppered throughout the parade, a new addition to the beauty queens, bagpipe players, Shriners and sheriff's deputies on motorcycles who passed by the crowd.

Janyah's favorites were the Disney heroines, such as Jasmin, Snow White and Cinderella.

It was Cachet Hampton's first St. Patrick's Day parade in Oklahoma City, she said. For the event, she donned a green wrap dress, green lipstick and green and gold eye shadow — Janyah got to wear the lipstick, too.

The parade began at 1 p.m. at NW 5 and Broadway before heading onto E.K. Gaylord Avenue and east on Sheridan Avenue in Bricktown. Parade organizer Fran Kozakowski called the turnout “absolutely the best” she'd ever seen.

About 10 a.m. Saturday, a special ceremony was held on the steps of the state Capitol, part of “Welcome Home the Heroes” events organized by a nonprofit group called the Welcome Home Foundation in conjunction with the parade.

State Sen. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, were among the volunteers who read the names of all Oklahoma soldiers killed since Sept. 11, 2001, to a crowd of about 40 gathered at the south steps.

Vietnam War veteran Charles Murphy, of Oklahoma City, was there to pay tribute to Oklahoma soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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