By Bradley Zint
5:05 PM PST, November 4, 2013
The Orange County Fairgrounds on Nov. 11 will host a Veterans Day event billed as the county's largest in recent memory.
Veterans groups and various labor unions — including the Orange County Employees Assn. and California Labor Federation — are organizing the free event at the state-owned property in Costa Mesa.
The festivities at the fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive, run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include live music, entertainment, information booths and free hot dogs. Parking is also free.
"I think this is the first time that so many different veterans groups, veterans support groups — everybody — are coming together to say thank you," said Nick Berardino, OCEA's general manager. "I have never seen a Veterans Day event like this."
An opening ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
In the afternoon, the U.S. Postal Service will have its West Coast unveiling of a new stamp depicting the Medal of Honor. Teachers will be also on hand to help children send care packages and write thank-you notes and holiday cards for service members in hospitals and overseas.
Berardino, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran who also serves on the Orange County Fair Board, said such notes are particularly coveted by their recipients.
"What a wonderful opportunity for parents to bring their children to write a card to say thank you," he said. "And I know, when I was in Vietnam, when we used to get that stuff you would see battle-tested, hardened Marines with tears rolling down their face. It just is so meaningful."
Other festivities include the donation of wheelchairs to veterans and a motorcycle ride.
Riders are expected to begin assembling about 10:30 a.m. at the Orange County Labor Federation's headquarters, 309 N. Rampart St., Orange, and arrive at the fairgrounds by noon.
The event coincides with Veterans + Labor: Partners in Service, a union-sponsored project that helps veterans with job assistance.
For more information, visit http://www.veteransandlabor.com or contact Carina Franck-Pantone at (714) 675-3653.
If You Go
What: A Veterans Day celebration at the Orange County Fairgrounds
Where: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday
How much: Admission and parking are free
For more information: Visit http://www.veteransandlabor.com or contact Carina Franck-Pantone at (714) 675-3653