Former Steeler to lead Myrtle Beach parade

mprabhu@thesunnews.comFebruary 22, 2013 

— Former Pittsburgh Steeler and U.S. Army veteran Rocky Bleier will be this year's grand marshal at Myrtle Beach's Memorial Day weekend parade, the city announced Thursday.

Bleier played one season for the Steelers before being drafted by the Army in December 1968. While serving in Vietnam in 1969 he was wounded during an ambush and awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, according to a press release from the city.

He returned to the Steelers the next year and played for the team until 1980, retiring with four Super Bowl wins.

The parade, which will take place at 10:30 a.m. May 25, is the highlight of a month's worth of activities for the city's Military Appreciation Days.

The city's Military Appreciation Days Committee met Thursday afternoon to work toward finalizing the rest of the month's events and activities.

New this year will be a Veterans Beard and `Stache Beach Bash, where participants will compete in a number of facial hair categories -- including one for women.

Men entering the competition need to be veterans. To broaden the contest, organizer Dana King said women who would like to participate don't have to be veterans.

"Ladies just have to be a lady and show up," he said at the committee meeting. "Generally that is a bigger draw than a bunch of hairy dudes on stage."

King said he believes the event will be the first-ever veteran-exclusive beard and mustache competition.

"The committee was] looking for different things we could do," he said.

"I was looking for something unique, something that hadn't been done before and is fun."

Other activities shaping up to take place in May include a "meals ready-to-eat" tasting and cooking contest, 5K road race and band concerts. The committee has worked with local businesses who will give a discount to members of the military throughout May.

As grand marshal, Bleier will lead the parade on Ocean Boulevard and mingle with people at the Military Appreciation Days Family Picnic that same day.

Previous grand marshals include astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Sen. John McCain.

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