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'Welcome home' event for local soldiers set for Friday
Event will begin at 5:30 p.m. on East Main Street; includes hot dogs, games, inflatables and a cerem
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    Soldiers from local military units will receive a heartwarming welcome Friday, hosted by the City of Statesboro and  supported by area businesses and citizens, said Carrie A. Camden, administrative assistant to Statesboro City Manager Shane Haynes.
    In making this a community event, Sea Island Bank will hand out balloons and ice cream treats to children.  The Starlights will provide a patriotic musical program, and the City of Statesboro will provide hot dogs and drinks for everyone, as well as games and prizes for kids, inflatable bouncy attractions and more, she said.
    The welcome home event will take place on East Main Street across from the City Hall, in the street and in the adjacent parking lot, she said. East Main Street will be closed for the event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m., she said.
    The children’s activities and refreshments will begin at 5:30, followed by a homecoming ceremony at 6 p.m., Camden said. “One of the most impressive sights will be the soldiers marching from First Baptist Church down Oak Street into the staging area on East Main.”
    The ceremony will be kicked off with a drum roll, then the Statesboro High School JROTC Color Guard will present colors. Bill Coen will lead the crowd in singing the National Anthem, then an army song.
    Statesboro Mayor Joe Brannen will welcome guests and returning military, and LTC Tom Bright will recognize units returning home. Coen will again perform, singing “God Bless the USA” and the soldiers will then be dismissed.
    Those joining the celebration will be invited t remain until 7 p.m., she said. Afterward, families are invited to join each other at Splash in the Boro.
    The event is meant to be “a time of honor, fun and relaxation for these troops and their families,” she said.

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