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Multitude to gather to wave U.S. flags

Army Gen. Tommy Franks will join the commemoration on Bayshore Boulevard of Sept. 11.

By BABITA PERSAUD, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2002


Army Gen. Tommy Franks will join the commemoration on Bayshore Boulevard of Sept. 11.

TAMPA -- In the beginning, they were worried.

"Remember when we asked, who will show up?" said Linda Alfonso.

Now, on the eve of Sept. 11, tens of thousands are expected for "The Flags Along the Bayshore -- Tampa Remembers 9/11." Good Morning America will broadcast live Wednesday, interviewing the keynote speaker, Army Gen. Tommy Franks.

The program, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., will include military flyovers, prayer by Muslim clergy, speeches by Gov. Jeb Bush and Franks and patriotic tunes.

"It's really grown into a very beautiful commemoration," said Renee Williams, a cultural liaison with the city of Tampa. "A lot of eyes will be on us from around the country."

She estimates 50,000 people, decked out in red, white and blue and waving flags, could line the 4.5-mile stretch of Bayshore Boulevard.

Monday, though, was a day to prepare. The city trimmed trees and put up barricades. At the headquarters on E Jackson Street, the telephone rang constantly. Volunteers answered questions.

What time should I be there? (7 a.m.)

Will flags be provided? (No, bring your own.)

Will there be vendors? (No, but the Salvation Army will provide water and orange juice.)

Will there be seating? (No, but folding chairs are welcome.)

In the midst of the buzz were the three women who started it all: Julie Whitney, Julie Sargent and Alfonso. By now, their story is legend. Friends from aerobics, they decided to do something the morning after Sept. 11. They took American flags to Bayshore Boulevard and Bay to Bay and waved them at passing motorists.

Their effort was joined by fellow patriots like Bill Hamblin, a computer specialist and a Vietnam veteran, and by others. Each Friday, they waved flags and became known as the Bayshore Patriots. They began planning Wednesday's anniversary event months ago.

They've gotten to tour the U.S. Central Command and managed to get Franks as the keynote speaker. He was expected to be at the Pentagon that day.

On Wednesday, the women will rise early to attend a private breakfast for the volunteers and VIPs. "Then we will go out with everyone else. We will be greeting; that's our only job," said Whitney.

Organizers are asking people be in place by 7 a.m.

Parking is available at garages in Hyde Park Village and the St. Pete Times Forum (formerly the Ice Palace), which is two blocks away. Street parking is available between MacDill Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard and from Gandy to Hyde Park Boulevard.

Bayshore Boulevard will be wired for sound. An area has been set aside for protesters, near Hyde Park Place and Bayshore Boulevard.

Security will be tight. Streets near Bayshore will be closed to vehicles and to pedestrians because the governor and general are attending.

"We expect some confusion," Williams said.

Planning has been fun, but exhausting.

"We are a little tired," Sargent said.

-- For information, call 228-6678 or visit: www.bayshorepatriots.com.

Schedule of events

8 a.m. -- Military procession begins from Gandy Boulevard; firetruck procession begins from Platt Street bridge

8:05 -- Battle Hymn of the Republic

8:10 -- Prayer by a Muslim clergy

8:12 -- Let There be Peace on Earth, Florida Arts School

8:16 -- From a Distance, Florida Arts School

Processions arrive at Bay to Bay and Bayshore

8:31 -- Presentation of the colors, U.S. Special Operations Command Honor Guard

8:32 -- Star Spangled Banner, Tampa Oratorio Singers and Florida Brass and Percussion Ensemble

8:34 -- Pledge of Allegiance

8:36 -- Welcome by the Bayshore Patriots

8:40 -- Remembrance prayer by a Baptist minister

Four F-15s will fly over symbolizing the four planes lost on Sept. 11: American Airlines flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines flights 175 and 93.

8:46 -- A moment of silence

8:47 -- America, Tampa Oratorio Singers

8:50 -- Mayor Dick Greco speaks

8:57 -- An American Hymn, Tampa Oratorio Singers

9:01 -- Gov. Jeb Bush speaks

9:09 -- Remembrance prayer for the collapse of the World Trade Center

9:11 -- Flyover by rescue aircraft. Moment of silence

9:13 -- Amazing Grace, Berkeley Preparatory School's Pipe and Drum Corps

9:19 -- U.S. Army General Tommy Franks speaks

9:27 -- Taps and 21-gun salute

9:28 -- Final flyover, twin B-1 bombers

9:29 -- God Bless America

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