“The people of Tampa truly appreciate what we’re out there doing,” MacKenzie said. “It’s something we can be proud of … it reaffirms that we are out there doing the right thing.”
During the week leading up to the parade, MacKenzie visited numerous media outlets who were interested in the Grand Marshal’s story. He was impressed with how the word spread and people at the parade recognized him.
“One thing that really surprised me was how many people saw the stories and knew who I was and were calling out to me by my name,” he said. “I’d hear, ‘hey, Mack’ or ‘master sergeant’ – they knew who I was and what I stand for. I also saw veterans in the crowd stand up and salute.”
When the sponsor of the parade reached out to the Care Coalition to notify them they were selected as Grand Marshal, Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hower, chief of Community Outreach with the Care Coalition, said he knew MacKenzie would be a great fit.
“He is a good figurehead, loves to talk, and has a great story,” Hower said. “He loves to spread the message, so he was the perfect selection for this. He’s a selfless guy … always about the mission. Mission first.”
When MacKenzie first heard he was selected to be the Grand Marshal, he said he was honored to be chosen. But out of all the organizations possible to fill the role, he was moved with the selection of the Care Coalition.
“There were so many choices, and the fact they chose the military, chose us, is truly indicative of the support the local community provides to the military,” MacKenzie said.