Impromptu Veterans Day parade planned by Mattress Mack, other Houston icons

HOUSTON – A parade through downtown is a Veterans Day tradition in Houston.

This year, however, a parade will not be included in the city of Houston’s celebrations.

Some well-known Houstonians stepped up with their own plan to honor our veterans.

Brandon Lopez couldn't contain his excitement. He's home -- the Army and Navy vet got back 11 days ago. He stood along West Airport with the crowd, cheering on the parade of veterans.

"If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have all the things we have," Michael Smith said.

That's the why, as in why the parade mattered, but simply being here marked a milestone mainly because it came together within a day's work.

When Houston businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and conservative radio talk show host Michael Berry found out there would be no parade, they went to work.

"They put the other one off downtown. So they said let's get together and have one, and look around," Roy Martinez said.

"Mattress Mack" served as grand marshal.

"I think every one of us -- whether we're 7 years old, 70 or 90 years old -- knows a veteran. Just go up and say, 'Thank you for your service.' People want to be recognized for the fact that they put their life on the line for this country, for all of us men and women who enjoy the freedoms that the veterans (provided) for us," McIngvale said. "It's our duty and our pleasure to say thank you for the service they've given our great country."

"This isn't about Republican or Democrat, is about our veterans, the ones who have gone and served," Gene Pack said.

The Redneck Country Club is also giving out free barbecue and beer to some 1,000 Marines on Friday evening and then again on Saturday for veterans.

Meanwhile, the city of Houston said it had scheduled several events in honor of Veterans Day.

Mayor Sylvester Turner was expected to host the Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes Run at 8 a.m.

Also at 8 a.m., an AARP Veterans Job & Resources Fair was scheduled in Hermann Square at City Hall.

The city was scheduled to hold a Veterans Day ceremony at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall with a 21-gun salute.

To register and to learn more about the 9/11 Heroes Run, please visit the website.