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Wayne Newton returning to area for Armed Forces Day Parade

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, will be a special guest for the Armed Forces Day Parade on May 18 in South Charleston.

"We're just thrilled to death to have Wayne Newton," Bob Anderson, executive director for the South Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Monday afternoon.

Newton, a longtime Las Vegas headliner, is probably best known for his hit "Danke Schoen," as well as several other songs including, "Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast" and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady."

Anderson explained that he'd wanted for some time to bring Newton back to the area after the singer's last appearance here at the Clay Center in 2010.

"It's really been three years in the making," he director said

However, he noted that Newton would be a guest of the parade and only making a personal appearance -- not singing.

"He'll be there at the start of the parade and then at a table at the mound, later on."

Newton is also not the parade's marshal. That honor goes to Lawson Freeman, a Marine Corps veteran.

Anderson said bringing Newton to town is another significant accomplishment for the Armed Forces Parade, which is in its 54th year.

Over the years, Anderson said the parade has had many big name guests, though not all entertainers. During the Vietnam War, it hosted Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of operations for the war.

Extra security, he said, was brought out and police in riot gear engaged a few demonstrators.

"Back then, they just hit them over the head," Anderson said. "You can't do that now."

Other guests have included Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Maj. Gen. Chuck Yeager and Pvt. Jessica Lynch.

Anderson said Newton was excited to be part of the parade and waived his customary $85,000 personal appearance fee. Marvin Masters and the Masters Law Firm are flying him in at a cost of about $20,000.

"This is a really big thing for us," he said. "We've got Big Bird and SpongeBob Squarepants for the younger people and Wayne Newton for older people."

Anderson said he expects Newton and the cartoon character appearances will draw larger crowds than have been seen in many recent years. To commemorate the event, the convention and visitors bureau is having special coins minted, featuring Newton, to be given away during the parade.

"We did this before when Jessica Lynch was in our parade," he said.

The Armed Forces Day Parade will begin at noon May 18th on 7th Street in South Charleston and conclude at the Mound. A military flyover is planned during the parade, and Anderson said more than a hundred military units are expected to participate.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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