217 5 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Brandon, Florida -- A memorable 98-year-old grand marshal lead one of Florida's biggest Independence Day parades through Brandon on Friday.

This year, the colors everywhere were red, white, blue -- and maroon.

Maroon and white are the colors of Brandon High School, which turns 100 this year.

The Community Roundtable, the group that organizes the parade, decided to combine that education anniversary with Brandon's half-century old tradition of throwing one big American birthday party.

Leading the parade through the streets of Brandon, in a top-down black convertible, was Hazel McLean Henderson.

She told me in all her 98 years, she doesn't think she's ever gotten this much attention. She's the 2014 Brandon 4th of July parade grand marshal.

"I have to practice on my wave," she joked with me before the parade's 10 a.m. start. "I'm not sure just how to wave."

Henderson is the oldest known living graduate of Brandon High School -- a proud member of the Class of 1932.

"You've been alive for nearly half of all American history. What is it about this country that is so special for you?" I asked her.

"The freedom we have," she answered with no hesitation. "I think we don't really appreciate it."

The parade route began at Lumsden Road and Parsons Avenue, then headed north past the grandstands and reviewing stand across from Brandon Regional Hospital.

From there, the parade turned west on Robertson Street, went across Kings Avenue, and ended at the Publix/Burlington Coat Factory shopping center.

PHOTOS: 4th of July in the Bay area

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
217 5 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wtsp.com/1lEH1T9